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Commemorative poster marking 100th anniversary of the primary; includes pictures of 81 still using original, wooden ballot boxes since first vote in 1916.

Dec 17, 2015 12:11 PM

Landrigan: NH Secretary of State Gardner sets Feb. 9 as official FITN primary date

CONCORD - Secretary of State Bill Gardner unveiled a commemorative poster and officially set as Feb. 9 the date for the 100th anniversary of the first-in-the-nation primary.

The poster includes photographs of the 81 towns in the state still using the same, wooden ballot box to store the votes since the first primary in 1916.

Despite the fact critics pan New Hampshire as too white, too rural and not diverse enough, this primary was the most calm in decades as no state tried to leapfrog party schedules to take New Hampshire’s first primary away.

"This is the first time we are not out of compliance with the rules of the parties," Gardner told reporters.

Gardner also announced there will be a debate for the lesser-known candidates on the ballots Jan. 19th or Jan. 20 at St. Anselm College’s Institute of New Hampshire Politics.

"This primary is really about the little guy," Gardner said.

Former State Sen. Jim Splaine, a Portsmouth Democrat, authored the modern day primary law in the mid-1970s that guaranteed New Hampshire’s primary would be at least seven days before any similar event.

"Unlike a lot of states where the parties pay for the primaries, the taxpayers here pay for ours and that gives us ultimate flexibility for Secretary Gardner to set the date whenever he wants to protect us," Splaine said.

Cy Gregg, a Greenfield, Republican, is the son of the late Gov. Hugh Gregg, widely considered with Gardner one of the godfathers of the modern primary.

"There’s nowhere else you get the kind of exchange voters have here with the candidates," Gregg said.

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