ABC News' Karen Travers Reports: New Hampshire residents take great pride in their First in the Nation status and some even take it so far that they vote just after the clock strikes midnight on primary day.
Dixville Notch, N.H. (population 24) had the honor of being the first of the first. The residents of this tiny hamlet just 20 miles from the Canadian border gather at 12:01am on primary day at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel to cast their votes for president.
It's still early but Barack Obama and John McCain are in the lead. McCain picked up 4 votes, Mitt Romney 2 votes and Rudy Giuliani 1 vote. On the Democratic side, Obama received 7 votes, John Edwards 2 votes and Bill Richardson 1 vote
Adding that up - there were 17 votes cast tonight. Yet Dixville Notch town clerk Rick Erwin told ABC News this afternoon that there are only 16 residents of voting age in the town -- three registered Republicans, two Democrats and 12 registered as undeclared.
Will Dixville Notch go down as the first voting irregularity of this election?
Dixville Notch resident Neil Tillotson held the distinction of being the first voter in the nation for every general and presidential primary election from 1964-2000. He passed away at the age of 102 in October 2001.
The just-after-midnight voting tradition actually began in Hart’s Location, N.H. (approximate population: 42) back in the 1940s but the town shortly thereafter gave up the practice due to too much media attention.
In 1996 the voters of Hart’s Location decided Dixville Notch shouldn’t get all of the press attention and decided to bring back the 12:01am voting tradition again. They will vote again at midnight tonight – 29 people are registered to vote (eight Democrats, eight Republicans and 13 undeclareds).
The voting in Dixville Notch will lead the morning newspaper and television coverage on primary day for its novelty but it is not a reliable measure how the rest of the state will vote. On the Republican side in 2000, George W. Bush beat John McCain 12 votes to 10 votes, but McCain ended up winning the state primary and on the Democratic side, Bill Bradley beat Al Gore 4 votes to 2 votes, but Gore won the state.
No candidates are scheduled to drop by the midnight voting tonight in Dixville Notch.
In 2004, Wesley Clark actually showed up in Dixville Notch as the votes were being cast. The personal appearance seemed to have helped – Clark won eight of the 15 votes cast that night in the Democratic primary (eventual winner John Kerry won 3 votes).
Town Clerk Rick Erwin tells ABC News that no candidate in recent memory has won the White House without passing through the town at some point in the campaign.
Then-Gov. George Bush paid a visit in Nov. 1999 and Bill Clinton did the same when he was still governor of Arkansas. John Kerry and Al Gore sent proxies – Kerry sent his brother in 2004 and Gore sent his wife Tipper in 2000.
So far the town has only been visited by Republicans – Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Ron Paul.