For 16.5 million voters, the 2008 elections are already over. They live in one of the 31 states that have early voting.

Eight Southern states have early voting -- Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Two highlights so far:

(1) The biggest early voting state is North Carolina, where the total of early voters -- more than 1.8 million -- is already over half the entire voter turnout for 2004.

(2) Southern early voting is big among those who favor Barack Obama: Democrats and African-American voters. This is a big change from 2004, for example, when 60% of early voters nationally went for Bush.

Five Southern states break down who is voting early -- here are the numbers, thanks to Dr. Michael McDonald's helpful website at Virginia's George Mason University:
Florida
2,590,600 early voters -- 34% of total 2004 vote
Democrats: 45.4%
Republicans: 39%
None/Other: 15.6%

Georgia
1,381,100 early voters -- 42% of total 2004 vote
White: 60.6%
Black: 35.2%

Louisiana
266,880 early voters -- 14% of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 58.5%
Republican: 28.4%
None/Other: 13.1%
White: 60.8%
Black: 36.3%

North Carolina
1,847,900 early voters -- 52% of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 53.5%
Republican: 29.2%
None/Other: 17.6%
Under 45: 33.8%
White: 69%
Black: 27.1%

West Virginia
96,200 early voters -- 13% of total 2004 vote
Democrat: 59.4%
Republican: 31.5%
None/Other: 9.2%