New Hampshire voters kick off first US election primary

Kasich and Sanders take lead in small opening primary poll of US presidential race seen as a bellwether.

    Voting in New Hampshire, the first presidential primary of the 2016 US election cycle, has begun.

    Nine registered voters in a tiny northern US community of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, cast the first ballots from midnight (0500 GMT) on Tuesday, hours before most of the state.

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    The vote went 3-2 to John Kasich over Donald Trump for the Republicans, and 4-0 for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democrats, the Washington Times reported.

    The result is sometimes treated as a predictor of how the rest of the state will vote.

    Dixville Notch has kept the tradition of midnight voting alive continuously since 1960, according to USA Today, and this year was joined by two nearby communities, Millsfield and Hart's Location, also with just a handful of voters each.

    Polling stations elsewhere in the state opened at 6am (1100 GMT). Voting will continue until 7pm or 8pm in different locations.


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    The first ballot was by caucus on February 1 in Iowa where US Senator Ted Cruz finished on top among Republicans and Clinton beat Sanders by a whisker among Democrats. 

    The spotlight has been on New Hampshire since the Iowa vote, and the candidates spent their final day before the primary campaigning for support. Nearly all of the Republicans made appearances on Monday. 

    The New Hampshire primary is different from Iowa in that it is organised not by the political parties, but by the state. There are 307 voting stations and voting takes place by secret ballot.

    All registered voters - not just registered Democrats and Republicans - are allowed to participate in the primary. Unaffiliated voters are classified as independents and may vote for candidates in either
    party.

    Independents make up about 43 per cent of the New Hampshire electorate, while Democrats and Republicans make up about 30 per cent each.

    SOURCE: DPA


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