EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN has sent dozens of reporters, producers, contributors and correspondents to the key battleground states to cover the final days of the 2012 election. The following dispatch is from CNN's Vivian Kuo in New Hampshire.
(CNN) - We’re driving towards Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, seated way up in the northernmost part of the state, sandwiched by Maine, Vermont and Canada.
This tiny hamlet is buzzing – and for good reason: both Dixville Notch and its southern neighbor, Hart’s Location, have the distinction of casting the first ballots in the country on Election Day.
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As we arrive at The Balsams Ski Lodge in Dixville, the thermometer reads a brisk 29 degrees and snow flurries are coming down so fast, the parking lot is obscured by a white carpet in no time.
But there’s no concern by city officials about a low turnout. In fact, Dixville Notch, population 10, has had 100% voter turnout since it started its first-in-the-nation voting tradition in 1960.
Inside the ski lodge, we find framed front pages of periodicals and pictures of past presidents visiting this proud community. A wooden sign emblazoned with Dixville Notch’s “First in the Nation” status hangs grandly on the wall.
Dixville Notch’s voters this year are made up of three registered Republicans, two Democrats, and five independents – a microcosm of New Hampshire as a whole, where the two presidential candidates are in a statistical dead heat. This state contributes four key electoral votes in this election that appears, at least at the outset, to be incredibly close.
It’s now just a few minutes to midnight on Election Day, and Dixville Notch’s residents have lined up to receive their ballots. One by one, they drift over to the polling booths to cement their candidates, while a semicircle of journalists watch their every move.
At the stroke of midnight, these 10 voters, some with dramatic flourish, ceremoniously drop their votes into a padlocked wooden ballot box.
According to New Hampshire law, once all registered voters have officially cast their ballots, the polling place can be officially closed.
The lodge thrums with anticipation while the town clerk tabulates the results, completed within mere minutes.
And for the first time in its history, Dixville Notch’s presidential picks end in a tie – five for Barack Obama, five for Mitt Romney – echoing what national polling has found: this election is too close to call.