Voices from voters as they cast primary ballots in 5 states

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters in five states are making their choices Tuesday in party primaries. Florida and Ohio are the big prizes sought by front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as they aim to prevent rivals from narrowing the delegate gap. Voters will also cast ballots in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina.

Here's a look at what some voters had to say:


When deciding which candidate to vote for, Eduardo De Jesus treated it like a job interview. He evaluated which candidate would continue the changes started by President Obama and which candidate would take the nation "to the next step." On Tuesday, he made his choice at a polling station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is the only candidate who can work with Congress to get things done, he said.

"Hillary Clinton. She is the best prepared. She has done it," said De Jesus, a 56-year-old Navy veteran who currently is director of operations for a medical insurance company. "She has been there. She is the person that should replace Barack Obama."

Trump has been disrespectful to the election process, De Jesus said.

"My hope is that America can wake up and say, 'This is our process for democracy.' And this will come to pass," he said.


Ross Nichols, a 64-year-old retiree voting in Tallahassee, Florida, said he had planned on voting for Ben Carson until his wife persuaded him to switch over to Trump. Nichols joked that "Ben wouldn't keep his eyes open" during the debates.

His wife, Elvira Nichols, is a naturalized citizen who moved to the United States from Colombia 18 years ago. Elvira Nichols, 60, said she did a lot of research and she decided to back Trump. "I believe he's a leader" and that he has shown it through his business accomplishments, she said.

Nichols said she feels that illegal immigrants get "free schools" and "free benefits" while "my husband has been struggling."

"I think it's not fair," Nichols said.


Jordan Weichelt cast his ballot for Marco Rubio in Columbia, Missouri, since the Florida Republican seemed the "most relatable" of all the GOP candidates.

Weichelt, 23, describes himself as a moderate Republican. Rubio's positions on foreign policy and immigration also swayed him.

"Some candidates go too far to one side. Like Trump," Weichelt said. "I mean, he wants to get rid of all the Muslims. That's not logical."


Albert Griggs voted for Clinton at a church on Chicago's South Side. The 48-year-old mechanic who is married with two kids said he thinks Clinton has a better chance than Sanders if Trump is the eventual Republican nominee.

"Hillary is going to have the women behind her. Young voters will vote for her," Griggs said.

Griggs also thinks Clinton's husband, Bill, did a good job as president in the 1990s.

"She is his wife. I think she should follow suit. She is more down-to-earth, a people person," Griggs said. "She's not trying to pull the race card or start animosity among the people in the United States."


Don O'Neal cast his ballot in Springfield, Illinois, for Ohio Gov. John Kasich since he has been the least confrontational of the Republican presidential candidates.

"He has the most practical experience in governing and is the least confrontational candidate," O'Neal said. "He's acting like more of an adult than some of the others."


Sheri Scott, a 44-year-old divorced mother of three children, voted for Sanders at her precinct in Chicago because she said he seems more trustworthy than Clinton. That trustworthiness gives him a better chance than Clinton of winning against a Republican in the general election, she said.

"I believe he's a genuine person with a good heart. I trust him," said Scott, a customer service worker. "I don't trust her (Clinton) as much. I will vote for her if she makes the nomination."


Sheila Green is a financial specialist at the College Foundation of North Carolina who works with students who want to go to college. She said she thinks Sanders is doing a disservice by leading students to believe they can attend for free. Green, 55, voted for Clinton at her polling station in Raleigh, North Carolina. She doesn't think Sanders' plan for free tuition would work or get through Congress.

"It's not going to happen," she said.


Lawrence Michael Thomas, 18, cast his ballot for Sanders over Clinton. He says Sanders represents everything he is looking for in a candidate. The first-time voter and resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, who described himself as mixed-race, said he feels Clinton "has done nothing for African-Americans at all."

"She's been riding the coattails of her husband. There is actually proof of Bernie Sanders protesting with Dr. King and those like that," said Thomas, a high-school graduate who works at a Wendy's fast-food restaurant. "(Sanders) believes in everything that I believe in."

Thomas, who recently moved to North Carolina from central Florida because he thought he would have better job opportunities, said Sanders has broad appeal.

"He appeals to millennials, which I happen to be. He's a smart man," he said. "He's stood by African-Americans, where others did not, like Hillary Clinton. She basically left us out in the cold."


On the west side of Columbus, Ohio, Vietnam veteran and registered Democrat William McMillen said he voted for Trump, even though the candidate is a Republican.

McMillen, 70, a part-time warehouse worker, said he is concerned about the country's economic direction.

"He's a businessman," McMillen said. "America is a big business, and he could make money for us."


Associated Press writers Alex Sanz in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Florida; Terry Spencer in Plantation, Florida; Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, North Carolina; Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Ashley Lisenby in Springfield, Illinois; Don Babwin in Chicago; and Summer Ballentine in Columbia, Missouri, contributed to this report.