By Mason Mohon | PUERTO RICO
Puerto Ricans headed to the voting booth on Sunday, June 11th, 2017, to vote on whether or not Puerto Rico should become the 51st state of the United States. But before the results of the ballot are discussed, the history of Puerto Rico’s status must be reviewed.
A Brief History
As a matter of fact, Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, and Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States the Spanish-American war of 1898. The question of statehood has been proposed to Puerto Ricans before, and this time marks the fifth. The most recent vote was held in 2012, yet many individuals argued that the two question ballot was inconclusive, and the U.S. Congress never got around to addressing it.
The Current Status
As of 7 P.M. Eastern Time on June 11th, the election commission of the island has reported that nearly 23% of the island’s eligible voters have made their vote on the issue, totaling up to about 50,000 ballots cast. The vote for statehood has reached 97 percent.
— Ricardo Rosselló (@ricardorossello) June 12, 2017
Why This Occurred
Puerto Rico is in a recession, with $120 billion in debt. The island’s governor, Ricardo Roselló of the New Progressive Party has pushed strongly for a vote in this direction [pro statehood] due to the massive debt. The other two political parties of Puerto Rico advocated for a boycott of the vote, and a boycott showed.
Historically, Puerto Rico has had high voter turnouts, with 1.9 million voting on the statehood decision in 2012 and 2 million voting in 1993. Whether or not the lack of voters will have an effect on the final decision is yet to be seen.
Even though the vote in favor of becoming a state is nearly unanimous, it is ultimately up to the U.S. Congress to decide as to whether or not the island receives state status.