At midnight last night, the actual voting for President began (as opposed to caucuses) when nine voters in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire cast their ballots. The result: two for Romney; two for Huntsman; one for Gingrich; one for Paul; and three for Obama. Since 1960, Dixville has always the first to vote in the New Hampshire primary and again in the general election. The neighboring town of Hart's Location, which now votes right after Dixville Notch, had a tradition of voting first at midnight beginning in 1948. But they discontinued it in 1964, because, according to some, of the press attention. They reestablished the early voting tradition in the 1996.
According to a story in the Boston Globe in 2008, Dixville started their early voting to get publicity for the city and the hotel where the voting is held. In fact, the story goes that a press photographer moved the clock hands forward so that the first vote actually took place at 11:57 before the midnight vote at Hart's Location. The photographer at Dixville Notch got his picture of the "first" vote before all the other photographers over at Hart's Location -- and thereby got the story out first. The rest, as they say, is history.
If the early voting was meant to drum up publicity, it certainly worked. Last night, according to the Washington Post, "A crowd of about 200 media representatives chronicled the entire 2-minute affair." Not a bad turnout for a town of 12 people. That is the power of being first.