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New Hampshire Expands Options for Being First-in-Nation Primary

While the 2008 presidential candidates and their campaigns are scrambling to make the most of the Feb. 5 quasi-national primary, New Hampshire voters are still wondering when their first-in-the-nation primary will be held.

In the Granite State last week, Gov. John Lynch signed a major piece of legislation that would allow the primary to take place on a day other than a Tuesday.

The law, which went largely unnoticed, even in New Hampshire, could have a huge potential impact on the primary schedule and potentially alter a decades-long tradition.

New Hampshire is determined to hold its primary before every other state, save Iowa, which holds caucuses. In order to have maximum flexibility and prevent other states with similar elections from voting before it, the primary now could conceivably be held on a Saturday or Sunday.

The author of the legislation, Democratic Rep. Jim Splaine, who wrote the first bill to protect the New Hampshire's primary back in the 1970s, penned the law with the intent of closing several loopholes and expanding the authority of Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

By state law, only the secretary of state shall establish the primary date. The primary must fall "a week before any similar election" but can now be held on any day of the week.

Historically, Gardner has procrastinated setting the date until September or October of the preceding year, but with nearly 60 percent of the nation's population voting on Feb. 5, he now can ensure New Hampshire maintains its influence in the nominating process.

FOX News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.