Puerto Rico Voted on U.S. Statehood

Election Day marked the first time that the majority of Puerto Rican citizens voted in favor of statehood in a nonbinding referendum. Voters cited a shrinking population and economic downturn as major contributions to the support, although 58 percent of Puerto Ricans already live in the mainland United States, according to Mariano Castillo’s recent CNN article.

There were two main components to the vote. First, voters rejected their current identification as a U.S. commonwealth by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Second, in a question on the alternative, 61 percent of voters chose statehood, 33 chose sovereign free association and 6 voted for independence, the source reported.

“I think people just came to realize that the current relationship simply does not create the number of jobs that we need,” Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico Secretary of State, told the source. “When you have a political status that scares away half of your population, it is time to reject that political status.”

Many voters support a report made by the Obama Administration that offered many non-colonial options for consideration before choosing an alternate status, but this option did not appear on the ballot. The referendum that favors statehood is non-committal, but will compel lawmakers in Washington D.C. to act on the legislation.

Puerto Rico’s four million residents hold U.S. citizenship, but do not have the right to vote for president. Political officials have brought up a debate about whether or not Puerto Rico would need to adopt English as the principal language before gaining statehood, but no official decision has been made on the manner, the source reported.

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