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Voters Weigh Issues in US Presidential Race

Americans are about halfway through the primary election season to decide which candidates will represent the Democratic and Republican Parties in the November presidential election. VOA's Chris Simkins sampled some opinions on Tuesday when voters went to the polls in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

Voters streamed into polling places across the Washington area to cast their primary election ballots. As in other parts of the country, voters say the key campaign issues are behind who they want to be president.

Twenty-five-year-old Jason Downs says he voted for Democratic Senator Barack Obama because he wants someone in the White House who can tackle the nation's problems. "I just want to see change in the world and I am thinking this primary process here can bring about some change specifically on issues such as the war in Iraq and health care."

Many people at a polling precinct in Arlington, Virginia are members of the Democratic Party.

Voter Jamie Dromen is a Republican who voted for Senator John McCain. Dromen says his most pressing concerns are the sluggish economy and national security. He says he also wants peace, not just in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East.

"There is a lot going on in the world that the U.S. has initiated," he said. "I think it is important that we [the U.S.] see through and finish the things that we have started and make things right."

Hope Osborne, from Washington, says ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan weigh heavily on her mind. She also wants the next president to focus on affordable health care. She says, "I am recovering from a surgery I just had. While my health care covers some of the cost, some of the costs has to be paid by me and that has had a big factor on my living standards. Sometimes some of us have to choose between health costs and putting food on the table, something as simple as that."

Other voters, such as Daniel Pulido, expressed anger over the direction President Bush has led the nation. He says he wants a commander in chief who will be held more accountable. "My principle concern is the vast, expansive presidential power that has happened in the last eight years. There has been an almost complete absence of checks and balances between the legislature and the president. I am hoping that the trend starts to go the other way."

At another polling location in Virginia, Latinos make up the majority of voters. Ruben Sira and others say immigration reform and finding a solution for millions of undocumented workers in the United States are important to them.

"We have a lot of people coming here to work and do a good job. They pay taxes and I believe they should get an opportunity to stay here in this country. I think they should get a valid permit to work," Sira said

Many other voters had similar things to say about what is behind their support for a particular candidate. They are concerned about immigration, the economy, the war in Iraq, health care and terrorism.