None of the Above: The Strange History of Puerto Rico’s Status Votes

There have been five votes on Puerto Rico’s status in Puerto Rico. The results are shown below — and in the chart above. The tables below may seem a bit confusing, but read on to see a clear pattern.

July 23, 1967

  • 60%                 Commonwealth
  • 38.9%              Statehood
  • 0.6%                Independence

November 14, 1993

  • 48.6%              Commonwealth
  • 46.3%              Statehood
  • 4.4%                Independence

December 13, 1998

  • .06%              Current territory status
  • .1%                  Free association
  • 2.5%               Independence
  • 46.5%            Statehood
  • 50.3%            None of the Above

November 6, 2012

  • Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status?  Yes: 46%  No: 54%.
  • Irrespective of your answer to the first question, indicate which of the following non-territorial options you prefer.
    • Statehood: 61.13%
    • Independence: 5.54%
    • Sovereign Free Associated State: 33.32%

In 1967, Commonwealth was the most popular option, gaining 60% of the vote. In 1993, Commonwealth received a slight majority. In both cases, Congress rejected the definitions of “Commonwealth” offered by Puerto Rico and refused to take action. In 1998, Commonwealth was not included, since it was pointless to include an option that would not be accepted by Congress. The Commonwealth party encouraged supporters to vote “None of the above” but of course there could have been voters who chose “None of the above” with something else in mind. Nonetheless, in the chart shown above we have included all votes for “None of the above” as votes for commonwealth.

The 2-part vote in 2012 also did not include Commonwealth, for the same reason. However, we have included votes in favor of continuing as a territory on the first question together with the territorial option from 1998. If we included those votes as votes for commonwealth, we would see Commonwealth continuing on a downward path.

Here’s the chart again:

referenda

Independence rises slightly from 1967 to 2012, but continues to be favored by only a very small percentage of the voters.

Free Association and Territory rise, but not to the level of Statehood or Commonwealth.

Commonwealth falls.

Statehood rises, ending up with the highest percentage of votes.

The 2017 vote

In June, 2017, a fifth vote was held. In this vote, 97% of the voters chose statehood. Fewer than two percent voted for the current territorial option or for independence. Both the “commonwealth” and the independence party called for boycotts of the vote. As many observers noted at the time, nobody calls for a boycott of a vote they think they can win. Statehood clearly won. The hart above shows the growing popularity of statehood, and the final vote confirmed it.

This post was originally written in English and may be being auto-translated by Google.

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