In 2012, there was a plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s political status. It contained two questions. In answer to the first question, 54% of Puerto Rico voters rejected the current territorial status. In answer to the second question, 61% voted for statehood. You can see the results below.
A majority of voters said that they did not want to continue as a territory. A majority said that they preferred statehood over independence or free association.
There is no uncertainty here.
The White House said “the people of Puerto Rico have made it clear that they want a resolution to the issue of the island’s political status.” However, they were also told that the results were “a little less clear than that” because there were blank votes.
As you can see in the video above, the opposition — the people who want to preserve the current territorial status or create an impossible and unconstitutional “enhanced commonwealth” status — called on their followers to turn in blank ballots. Some of the blank ballots could have been intended as votes for the “commonwealth.” However, blank ballots are not valid votes. 1.7 million Americans left the question of their choice for president blank in 2016. Why did they do this? Some may have intended a protest vote. Some may have been unable to make up their minds. Some may have disliked both choices. No one can say for sure what they had in mind.
How did those 1.7 million blank votes affect the 2016 presidential election? They didn’t. Blank votes are not considered. Elections — and plebiscites — are decided by the people who show up and vote.
Unable to get their fantasy position on the ballot, the “commonwealth” supporters instead muddied the waters by claiming that the blank votes should be considered. The result? Congress did not take action on the 2012 referendum. They did not respect the vote.
Puerto Rico voted for statehood, but the vote was denied.