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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 10:37 GMT
Young US voters: Liz

Name: Liz
Age: 16
Lives: White Lake, South Dakota
Occupation: High school student
Current voting intention: Will register Republican
In 10 words or less:
"Christian farmer's daughter who loves music, running and hanging out"

In my school, the importance of voting is strongly encouraged by our teachers, as it will determine the path the US takes in the future.

For me the main issues at stake in our country right now include the preservation of traditional values in American society, cracking down on illegal immigration, strengthening homeland security, and preserving our freedoms.

In 2008, I'd like to see a truly competent presidential candidate that can speak not only to the American people, but can also negotiate well with the rest of the world.

I really want to vote for the best person for the job. I will vote not along party lines but for an individual candidate who addresses the issues that matter and has a plan for Iraq, social security reform, and the separation of church and state.

However, my own political convictions and personal views are often more in line with Republicans as they are the more conservative party.

In my opinion, Hillary Clinton is a risky candidate and I won't be voting for her. She is either loved or loathed, it seems, and even many hardcore Democrats don't seem convinced that she is their candidate.

Her views are not appealing enough to centre-ground voters, though she is a true politician.

The biggest challenge for the right candidate, from either party, is in dealing with the Iraq fiasco.

Withdrawing our troops wouldn't solve the problems there. In fact, it would incite further hatred against the West and create more terrorists, which is the last thing we need.

Secondly, the US needs a candidate willing to put restrictions on social security to those well off enough to survive on their own.

Social security is meant to be for those who are financially unable to survive - it is not a retirement fund. As it is a subject that almost no one can totally agree on, I expect it to be ignored by all the main candidates again, unfortunately.

It is encouraging that many of my friends also intend to vote on the issues, rather than along party lines.

However, voter apathy is still a major problem, particularly among young voters. Teens in America have this image that we only care about celebrities and late-night parties, and having an interest in anything else is seen as a bit strange

I have been told that I am too interested in politics. This attitude must change if we really want to make a difference.

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