Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with The Atlantic that he is passionate about voting rights. “Voting is the bedrock of our democracy,” he told the interviewer. “It’s what people die for.”
Asked what steps he would take, Schumer spoke about steps states could take to make it easier for their citizens to vote.
Schumer also spoke up for D.C. statehood. “Empowering people,” he said. “I’d do it for Puerto Rico too, but they’re not sure they want statehood. But D.C. has had a referendum, they want statehood, and we should have them be allowed to vote in federal elections—have congressmen, have senators, etc.”
In 2016, 244,134 D.C. voters, or 85.69% of all votes, chose statehood for Washington, D.C. in a up or down statehood vote. 40,779 voted no, and there were 26,154 blank or otherwise invalid votes.
In 2017, Puerto Rico also held a status vote. This referendum included statehood, independence, and the current territorial status. 502,801, or 97% of all votes, chose statehood. 7,786 chose independence, 6,823 chose territorial status, and there were 984 blank or otherwise invalid votes.
What does statehood provide?
D.C. already has the power to vote in presidential elections. They have 3 electoral votes. The Electoral College consists of representatives of each state, plus the District of Columbia. This group of people votes for the president.
As a state, Puerto Rico would also be able to vote in presidential elections, which it now cannot do.
Both D.C. and Puerto Rico, as states, would have senators and voting members of the House of Representatives. This would give each of them a great deal more power than they currently have, and a much stronger voice in American democracy.
Puerto Rico wants statehood
More than 40,000 people in Washington, D.C. do not want statehood. The majority want statehood. In a democracy, the majority of voters must make the decisions. We don’t have to wait until there is broad consensus and everyone agrees. We can’t factor in blank or otherwise invalid ballots.
In 2012 and in 2017, Puerto Rico’s voters chose statehood. We must respect the votes. It is time for action. We hope that Senator Schumer will stand with Puerto Rico’s voters and choose to support statehood.