The Puerto Rican once again voted in favor of turning their home island into a US state and they hope that, this time, their decision will have real weight.
Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States for 122 years and the oldest colony in the world, held five previous non-binding referendums on the issue. In 2012 and 2017, the island nation had overwhelming support of 3 million citizens, but Congress never took any further action to add Puerto Rico to the alliance.
This year, they were asked: “Should Puerto Rico immediately be admitted to the Union as a state?”; A majority of voters answered “yes,” according to the AP, New York Times, and the island electoral commission, as of Wednesday afternoon. With 95% of the constituencies reporting, the rate of return stands at 52% for and 48% against.
As the Times noted, the number of voters to vote is very complicated. But The people of Puerto Rico hope that will send a clear message to Congress regarding a desire to gain rights and privileges related to state status. Although Puerto Ricans are US citizens and pay money on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare, they do not hold seats in Congress and cannot vote for president. They vote for a resident commissioner, who can make laws and vote for committees in the House of Representatives, but that’s far from full voting privileges.
Congress has no legal obligation to comply with the results of the referendum – congressional legislators may have passed legislation to make the island state depending on the results of the referendum. but they did not.
State government supporters expect a higher turnout rate than in previous referendums, arguing that it would make it difficult for US lawmakers to ignore the issue after years of declaration. father that Puerto Rican people should decide their own fate. Less than a quarter of eligible voters voted in the 2017 referendum, which was boycotted by opposition parties supporting status quo or independence. That raises the question of the legality of the vote and allows US lawmakers to oppose the matter.
Puerto Rico has a lot to gain from being a state. In addition to having a say in presidential elections, the new state will have two seats in the Senate and five representatives in the House of Representatives. It will also likely receive federal funding; it will be a lot harder for the federal government to cut back on aid, as President Donald Trump, who had previously considered selling the island, did after Hurricane Maria.
But critics have warned that it will also raise federal taxes. (Puerto Rican and island-based corporations currently only pay federal tax under limited circumstances.)
If Puerto Rico became a state, it could shake up political dynamics in Congress. Most Puerto Ricans moving to the United States have a history of supporting Democrats. But it is not clear that the island will be blue. Experts say that most likely will be the state of rotation.