We recently aired a story about a farm stand in Ashland with a unique amenity – an outhouse that owner Chris Owens had converted into a makeshift voting booth. While the latest polls show an ever tightening Presidential race, NHPR’s Sean Hurley says the results from the outhouse indicate a clear victory for one candidate.
Chris Owens sits beside an outdoor woodstove at the back of his farm stand. At his feet, his cat, Sid Vicious and on his lap - a box full of ballots, freshly collected from…his outhouse.
For the last month or so, anyone who stopped by the organic farm stand was handed a ballot with the
presidential candidates listed and urged to head for the outhouse to cast their vote. “You know some of them would just come and vote,” Owens says, “but they'd have a good time and there was a lot of laughing and people getting together and yelling at each other for voting for the wrong person. But it was almost all good natured. We had three serious fights. Not fist fights but verbal fights.”
And now, a week before the election, the outhouse vote is being tallied. “Here we go!” Owens says and begins to flick through the ballots, “Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Bernie…Trump…Trump…Trump…Jesum! Hillary –
“Who’s Jesum?” I ask.
“Jesum is me trying not to say a bad word,” Owens says. “I’m just saying Jesum.”
Before the count, Owens, who’s a Clinton supporter, said that even though the Plymouth/Holderness area generally votes democratic, he’d mostly heard from Trump supporters. “The Trump people were much more enthusiastic about their candidate and they would tell me a lot,” he says. “Whereas the Clinton people just smiled and took their ballot and went to the ballot box.”
The graffiti in the outhouse also had him thinking that Trump was headed for a win. We venture inside the outhouse where he reads off some of the more legible writing. “’Make America Great Again. Go Trump. This country is broken. Make America Great Again from Rhode Island. Build that wall.’ See I'm telling you the Trump people were more enthusiastic.”
Which also made Owens nervous about the final results - and which explains his occasional shout of “Jesum!” whenever Trump gets a few votes in a row.
“Oh here's a good one,” Owens says and reads off a ballot. “’Pinocchio. At least we know when they're lying. He's lying.’ Ok Pinocchio. That's a write in.”
And so…with 721 ballots cast… the results of the 2016 Outhouse Vote…
“Gary Johnson and Jill Stein together got a hundred and one votes,” Owens announces, “and Bernie got 40 write-ins. So he's still - people just love him. And then Trump got 165. Then we started counting Clinton and she got 413 which means that she almost tripled what he got.”
Owens, gets a marker, writes Clintons 413 down and then Trumps 165 on a big sheet of cardstock to post by the side of the road.
“I thought he had a chance,” Owens says.
Not at the outhouse. But the real election is still a few days off.