In small-town America, it's a community effort to make Election Day possible

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Posted at 2:05 PM, Nov 08, 2022

HART'S LOCATION, NH — This small bed and breakfast will play a critical role in ensuring Election Day is possible in Hart's Location, New Hampshire.

"We close down the inn for three days to make this possible," Les Schoof said.

The Notchland Inn is the kind of place most people pass by on their way to someplace else. It’s also the place where Les Schoof has lived for the better part of 30 years. He and his husband are co-owners of the country inn.

On any other day, Schoof would be taking care of guests. But Election Day looks a bit different around the country inn.

“It’s almost like a civics course in democracy," he said.

With just 45 registered voters, Hart’s Location is usually the first in the nation to cast their votes in the Presidential election. It's a traditional dating back to 1948.

“Here because the people know each other, there’s a certain respect for getting this done for one another," Schoof said about Election Day.

Midterms don’t garner quite as much attention, but they are just as busy for Schoof. In addition to owning the only space in town big enough to house a polling location, he also serves as Town Moderator.

He has a unique view of where we stand as a country.

“Despite all of the tension in the world, the fact that we get the elections accomplished is mechanically amazing to me,” he added.

In a year when there has been so much rhetoric surrounding how we vote in this country. Hart’s Location offers a bit of a reminder of just how precious the entire process of voting still is.

"I’m not saying they’re disagreements but everyone hears the other person’s point of view. There’s civility," Schoof explained.

Marielle Brown and her husband Doug are two of the town’s residents.

"This has a hometown feel," she said.

Watching the whole process is almost like stepping back in time. There are no computers or touchscreens. The ballot box, itself, dates back about 60 years.

"It’s about making it a comfortable, humane way to govern," Les Schoof said.

When all 45 registered voters have cast their ballots, polls close. For those who live here, there’s a certain intimacy to all of it. And a reminder of how precious the entire process of voting is meant to be.