Dartmouth Community Goes to the Polls With Some Flair

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Students turn out to cast their ballots in the first-in-the-nation primary.

Two students holding a colorful VOTE sign lead students to vote.
Beatrice Reichman ’27, left, and Bella Neireiter ’27 lead a train of students walking from campus to the polls at Hanover High School on Tuesday. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

James Cunningham ’27 made his way to the polls at Hanover High School during lunchtime Tuesday, stopping on his walk back to campus to say he had taken a Republican ballot and voted for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

“I was originally a (Ron) DeSantis guy, but after Iowa it seemed like the only viable anti-Trump candidate is Haley,” Cunningham said.

Although Cunningham, a potential engineering major, does not consider himself highly political, he said he appreciated the opportunities he had in recent months, particularly through the Dartmouth Political Union, to hear debate on issues he cares about. He also attended watch parties for a number of the Republican debates.

Leila Ambrus '25 signs in to vote in the primary
Leila Ambrus ’25 signs in to vote in the primary at Hanover High School. This was her second year casting a vote as a Hanover resident. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

Originally from Connecticut, he said he was happy to be able to cast his very first vote in the first-in-the-nation primary, but he was unsure if the primary is as influential as in years past.

“We’ll see how today goes. I’m hoping it’s closer than people say,” Cunningham said. “I hope it’s a better situation than some of the polls are saying.”

Cunningham wasn’t alone in Hanover. While former president Donald Trump handily won New Hampshire, Haley carried Hanover with 1,487 votes, to 228 for Trump, according to results from the Hanover town clerk.

Haley spoke not long after polls closed and vowed to stay in the race, setting her hopes on the upcoming South Carolina primary.

Caroline Phipps ’27 registered at the Hanover polls Tuesday, assisted by volunteer Hanover election worker Michael Herron, a professor of quantitative social science. After taking a moment to make sure Phipps had the documentation she needed to register, he explained how to fill out the paperwork, select the party of her choice, receive a ballot, and vote.

Afterwards, Phipps, who wrote in President Joe Biden on the Democratic ballot, said she was excited to vote in her first presidential primary. She said she talked to fellow students who shared information on how to write in Biden, who was not on the ballot in New Hampshire because of the Democratic National Committee’s efforts to move other, more diverse states, to the front of the primary calendar.

Hanover Democrats outside the polls.
JJ Dega ’26 and Hanover Democrat Deborah Bacon Nelson hold signs outside the Hanover High polls encouraging voters to write in Joe Biden for president. His name was not on the New Hampshire ballot because of a dispute over the primary calendar. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

“I know that I trust a lot of the people I’ve talked to about writing in Joe Biden and so I feel comfortable with that decision now and look forward to following the election more in depth,” Phipps said.

Biden easily won the state, and received 1,435 Democratic votes in Hanover, while challengers Dean Phillips had 196 votes and Marianne Williamson 55, according to the town clerk. Both of them had spoken at Dartmouth as part of the Path to the Presidency series.

Herron, a Hanover resident who has volunteered at the polls for a number of years, noted that there was a steady stream of students voting since he started at the polls at 10:30 a.m., many of them taking advantage of same-day registration.

Among the new voters was President Sian Leah Beilock, who posted an “I voted” sticker photo on Instagram after her visit to the polls.

Dartmouth Civics, the nonpartisan student group working to inform students how to register and vote, whether in Hanover or their home state, led student walking trains to the polls throughout the day.

“We’re just trying to encourage students to go to Hanover High and make their voice heard in the primaries,” said Beatrice Reichman ’27, a member of Dartmouth Civics, speaking during the 12:30 walking train that included some eight students. Her 9 a.m. trip included 10 students.

“And this is kind of a uniquely Dartmouth way of doing it. We’re getting dressed up in flair. We have posters. We’re trying to bring some energy to it, and I think that that’s going to encourage people,” Reichman said.

Student registers to vote
Noah Larbalestier ’26 registers to vote in the primary at Hanover High School. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

Dartmouth Student Government, in partnership with Dartmouth Votes and Dartmouth Civics, also funded shuttles from campus to the polls Tuesday.

“The eyes of the world are on New Hampshire right now,” said Anthony Fosu ’24, chief of staff of Dartmouth Student Government. “So we want to make sure that Dartmouth students feel like they can really engage.”

Bill Platt