New Hampshire Primary kicks off

Dixville Notch--Cascade Brook Marker

Two tiny New Hampshire towns officially kicked off the 2012 Republican White House primary shortly after midnight Tuesday (0500 GMT), delivering a small early edge to Mitt Romney.

Both Dixville Notch (population around 75) and Hart’s Location (population 42) claim to hold the first-in-the-state vote to determine who will run in the presidential election every four years.

In Hart’s Location, New Hampshire, voters cast ballots in the state’s primary election just after midnight on Tuesday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received 5 votes, Ron Paul received 4, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman received 2, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich each secured one vote.

The results came in shortly after 9 registered voters in the town of Dixville Notch cast the first ballots in New Hampshire’s primary contest.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman each won two votes of the nine cast in the contest. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) each received one vote. Three Democratic ballots were cast for President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama, appearing as the sole Democrat on the ballot, won three votes in Dixville Notch and 10 in Hart’s Location.

Dixville Notch has been holding the midnight vote continuously since 1960 at a local hotel ballroom. The Hart’s Location tradition dates back to 1948 but was suspended for several years between the 1960s and the 1990s.

The two votes have not always predicted the state as a whole — in 2008 Dixville Notch voted for Obama, but Hillary Clinton went on to win the primary.

Polls will open statewide at 6:00 am (1100 GMT), with frontrunner Romney expected to follow up on his razor-thin win in Iowa last week with a more decisive victory here, despite days of withering attacks by his opponents.

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