"Early voting suggests 2008 may see record turnout …"

On CNN … political scientist … “Michael McDonald, an associate professor of politics and government at George Mason University, said at least 2.2 million people already have voted using absentee or other types of ballots that allow them to vote before the polls open on November 4.”

Later, the story quotes McDonald:

Early voting suggests a record 213 million people are eligible to vote this year, said McDonald, who also works with the consortium that conducts election exit polling for broadcast and news networks.

“This will be the election in which the most people have ever voted in an American election in the history of our country,” he said.

McDonald said early voting is often a good prediction of the level of turnout on Election Day, and heavy early voting indicates the turnout this year will exceed the 60 percent turnout in the 2004 election.

“We have a very good chance of beating the 64 percent turnout in the 1960 election,” McDonald said. “We really could be looking at a historic election in modern American history.”

That race saw the highest level of turnout in American history, except the 66 percent turnout in the 1908 presidential election.

McDonald pointed to the record number of early votes already cast in Georgia as an example of the high interest in the race.

More than 690,000 Georgians already have voted, more than the entire number that cast ballots before Election Day in 2004, McDonald said. That figure represents nearly 21 percent of all the 3.3 million presidential votes cast in 2004, he said.

“If we see this persist across all states, we really could be in for an election of historic proportions,” McDonald said.