Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced has announced a new status vote for Puerto Rico. It will take place alongside the general election on November 3rd, 2020, and will contain one question:
“Shall Puerto Rico immediately be admitted to the Union as a State?”
This is the same format Hawaii and Alaska used in the 1950s, when they became states.
George Garcia Laws lays out the details in this video:
Laws Garcia responds to those who are saying that Puerto Rico should strengthen its economy before holding a new referendum. “It basically is condemning Puerto Rico to perpetually stay in the circumstance it’s in right now, because under the current territory status there are structural limitations to how Puerto Rico’s economy can grow.”
Historically, territories have not been expected to “get their house in order” before becoming states. Kansas and Minnesota were just two of the states that experienced serious hard times when they were territories. Admittance as states made the difference.
Laws Garcia also points out that the status referendum won’t change Puerto Rico’s status by itself. Minnesota never even held a referendum on status. Statehood actually comes from Congress.
Puerto Rico has held five plebiscites so far. The figures below, compiled by Wikipedia, show the percentages voting for each of the status options in each of the referenda. In the 2012 vote, there was a question asking whether voters accepted the current territorial status; 46% said yes and 54% said no. “None of the above” was an option in 1998.
|None of the above||NA||NA||50.3%||NA||NA|
Apart from these unusual additions, we can see that Independence has never achieved more than 5% of the votes.
The “commonwealth” option, which has had various definitions over the years, has had votes ranging from 0.06% to 60%. However, the actual definition of “commonwealth” according to the federal government is simply the current territorial status.
Statehood’s votes have increased steadily in each plebiscite.
We must make sure that Puerto Rico voters register, that they fully understand the status options, and that they get out to vote in November.
We must also make sure that Congress accepts their responsibility to take action after the next — the final — plebiscite.
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