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Clark carries early-morning balloting in two hamlets

DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. -- Retired Army General Wesley K. Clark won the initial votes cast this morning in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary, the first to be counted in a state primary this year.

Clark had been the only major candidate to visit two of the state's smallest hamlets -- Dixville and Hart's Location -- where residents cast their votes in the early minutes of Election Day.

Clark received 6 votes in Hart's Location. Senator John F. Kerry had 5, Howard Dean 3, Senator John Edwards 2.

Clark was in Dixville at the Balsam's hotel as the ballots were counted minutes after midnight. He won Dixville with 8 votes. Kerry had 3, Edwards 2, and Dean and Joseph I. Lieberman 1 each.

Officials and voters in both far northern towns had predicted the retired general would be rewarded. There are no registered Democrats in Dixville Notch, population 33, and just five in Hart's Location, which has 39 residents. But state law allows independents to register with a party at the polling place and vote in its primary. Most of Dixville Notch's 16 independents and Hart's 14 were expected to vote in the Democratic primary. Though Dixville is better known, the early voting tradition began in Hart's Location, about 50 miles to the south. According to local lore, Hart's Location began the practice in 1948 because many residents worked for the railroad and wanted to vote before starting early shifts. The town ended the practice in the mid-1960s when residents tired of all media attention, but resumed it in 1996.

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