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Record 10 million people have already voted in 2020 election

Still 21 days until Election Day, millions have decided not to waste any time.

More than 10 million people across the U.S. have already voted in the 2020 election, shattering early voting records with 21 days to go.

The U.S. Elections Project, which tracks early voting, said 10.5 million ballots had been cast as of 12:32 a.m. EDT Tuesday. That's about 7.6% of all votes cast in the 2016 election.

Around this time four years ago, about 1.4 million early votes had been cast.

Florida is leading the way with 1.6 million early votes followed by Virginia at 977,000 and Wisconsin at 965,000.

Five states -- Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin -- had already reached at least 20% of their 2016 vote as of Sunday, something University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald called remarkable.

The early votes are a combination of in-person and vote-by-mail. Long lines, including 8-hour waits, were reported in Georgia on the first day of early voting there.

"I think people are just really ready to vote and it doesn't matter how long it takes. We will stand in line to vote," said one woman voting at the main polling location in Cobb County, Ga. "We're voting like our life depends on it."

RELATED: Georgia voting rights groups keeping sharp eye on Georgia early voting

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McDonald, who runs the U.S. Elections Project, says that he expects early voting to pick up even more as we approach Election Day.

McDonald says in-person voting has traditionally been strong among Democrats. He says it won't be surprising if Republican in-person voting is stronger than usual this year, but he expects that to be dominated by the total number of mail-in and in-person votes from Democrats.

"Election Day should be bright ruby-red, and we'll see where the balance tilts when all is said and done," McDonald said.

McDonald says there are plenty of indications that this will be a high turnout election. He notes the 2018 midterms were the highest turnout for a midterm since 1914. Also, pollsters report high levels of interest in this election and there is a record amount of small donor activity.

Credit: AP
People wait in a line to vote early at the State Farm Arena on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)