TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Wanda Williams-Jones and Scott Warmack did their civic duty Thursday — two foot soldiers in what is fast becoming a record-setting battle of early votes cast in this year's race for the White House.
The two voted for different presidential candidates but for the same reason: They had long since made up their minds, and they wanted to put the electoral cacophony behind them.
“I wanted to get it over with,” Williams-Jones, 52, said after casting her ballot at the Leon County Courthouse and affixing the iconic “I voted” sticker to her blouse. “My mind won’t quit racing, and I won’t have to listen anymore now.”
“I was done thinking about all of this,” said Warmack, 51, an auto conversion shop owner in a Tallahassee suburb. “I don’t want anything to get in my way of not voting on Election Day.”
Americans who voted early Thursday, like some 34 million others before them, have their minds made up. They're done thinking about the FBI and Hillary Clinton's "damn e-mails." Or Donald Trump's sexually charged Access Hollywood tape.
By Election Day, early voters could swell to 50 million.
“People are so freaked out about the stakes in this election that they are doing whatever they can to make sure that their vote counts," said Doug Chapin, an elections expert at the University of Minnesota.
Early voters interviewed Thursday by the USA TODAY Network from North Carolina to California indicated a similar desire to lock in their choices now, having seen and heard enough from the candidates, commentators and commercials. They also were eager to avoid long lines — and potential chaos — at the polls on Tuesday.
There were Clinton voters convinced the former first lady, senator and secretary of State is most qualified for the presidency. And in many cases, they were eager to make history by electing the first female president.
"I did get a little choked up, I have to say," Cathi DuPuy of Columbus, Ohio, said after voting for Clinton. "That felt amazing to me."
There were Trump voters assured the New York developer would best manage the economy and reduce the federal budget deficit — including some who worried the election, as Trump claims, could be rigged.
“He knows what he’s talking about," said Jay Poage of Wichita County, Texas. "A man, his mouth can get him in trouble occasionally. But Hillary is under investigation. She should be in jail right now. If you or I did what she did, we’d be locked up already."