In an article at The Hill, former governor and resident commissioner Carlos Romero Barceló called for supporters of statehood for Puerto Rico to vote for Michael Bloomberg in the Democratic primary vote.
The former presidential candidate came out clearly for Puerto Rico Statehood.
However, he is no longer in the race. The remaining candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have not made clear statements on the question of statehood. So Romero Barcelo figures voting for Bloomberg in the primaries, while it will not cause Bloomberg to become the Democratic nominee, will make a point about statehood.
How have those “make a point” votes worked out?
Puerto Rico held a referendum in 2017, in which 97% vogued for statehood. Anti-statehood factions, seeing that they had no hope of winning the plebiscite, encouraged their supporters to boycott the referendum.
While it is not clear that most non-voters were supporting the boycott, the turnout for the vote was low: just about 23%.
While many congressional races in the U.S. have been decided with lower turnout, that result allowed “commonwealth” supporters to claim that the results were uncertain. Statehood supporters believe (on the basis of the 97% vote) that statehood won. Commonwealth supporters believe (based on the unlikely scenario of all the non-voters being “commonwealth” supporters) that they won. Independence supporters seem to believe (on no clear basis) that the vote showed a 50/50 result for independence. Nobody got the point.
The U.S. government literally doesn’t collect voter turnout statistics. However, FairVote shows that low turnout isn’t an issue in U.S. votes. There is no requirement for a quorum. Average voter turnout in Texas for the entire year of 2014 was just 28%. None of their elections were ignored.
But the 2017 Puerto Rico status vote was ignored by Congress. Statehood, the clear winner in the vote, did not get the support needed to become law.
The 2012 vote, in which statehood won by 61%, was also largely ignored by Congress. So were the preceding votes, which included one in which the winning option was “None of the Above.”
Regardless of Puerto Rico’s traditions, votes in the United States don’t make points. The winners win. Those with blank ballots or no votes or votes for people who have dropped out of the race can tell everyone what point they think they made, but introducing confusion is the only result.
We won’t tell you how to vote
If you are going to vote in the Democratic primary in your state or territory, ask your favorite candidate for a clear statement on Puerto Rico Statehood.
It’s time for both these candidates to make clear, unambiguous statements. If you get an answer, please share it with us!
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