Puerto Rico has voted twice for statehood — in 2012 and in 2017. In 2018, the elected government of Puerto Rico officially requested statehood for the Island. Now what?
Once a territory requests statehood, Congress can make conditions for becoming a state. The most common condition is that the territory must have a constitution approved by Congress. Puerto Rico has already done this. Another common condition is that the territory must have more than 60,000 residents. While some territories in the past have cheated a little on this requirement (Arkansas and Colorado, we’re talking about you), Puerto Rico has 3.2 million U.S. citizens living on the island, so that’s no obstacle.
The next step for Puerto Rico is simply for the U.S. Congress to vote to admit Puerto Rico as a state. Some people think that the other 50 states have to ratify the vote, or that Puerto Rico would have to wait for another state to join with it, but those are myths. It just takes a simple majority vote.
The president then signs the bill. Some territories in the past have had to wait for a new president if the president at the time would not sign the bill, but we think that President Trump might like to have a new state as his legacy.
Where does your vote come in?
If you live in Puerto Rico, there might be another vote on the territory’s status. Presidential candidate Julian Castro has proposed a binding referendum — a vote in Puerto Rico which would require Congress to take action. Governor Vazquez has said she wants a new Statehood: Yes or No vote in Puerto Rico to make sure that statehood is the most popular choice.
Poll after poll, vote after vote, Puerto Rico has made it clear that the people want to be the 51st state. There is very little support for independence — less than 5% — and there is no other viable permanent status option. If you live in Puerto Rico, you may have another chance to vote for statehood.
You can also vote in presidential primaries in 2020, making sure that your chosen candidate supports statehood.
If you live in a state, your vote is also important. Your friends, family, and fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Ricao cannot vote for senators, congresspeople, or the president. You can help give them a voice in the federal government by making sure that you tell your congressional reps that you want statehood for Puerto Rico.
Just a few years ago, members of Congress didn’t think much about Puerto Rico. Now, Congress is much more aware of Puerto Rico. But your congressperson might not realize that the majority of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico want statehood. He or she might not realize that statehood is the only route to equality for Puerto Rico.
Knowing that the people who will vote for — or against — them can motivate your representatives to learn more about Puerto Rico’s fight for statehood.
In our recent survey, we learned that 96.92% of our visitors are registered voters. But we also learned that only 32% of you have contacted your congressperson. Click on this link to go to a page where you can easily send an email to your representative, even if you don’t know their name.
If you’re not registered to vote yet, go to the official government voter registration page. Anti-statehood factions have tried to confuse and influence the voting process in Puerto Rico by claiming that blank ballots are meaningful. In the United States, if you don’t vote, you don’t count. Register to vote so you can have a voice in the American democracy.