Thanks to Google, we can see the questions that our visitors type in before they come to our website. “Is Puerto Rico a state?” they want to know, and “Why isn’t Puerto Rico a state?” and “What state is Puerto Rico in?” But once they get past those basics, we’re seeing a question that is becoming much more common now, in this election year.

“Can Puerto Ricans vote?” “Can Puerto Rico vote?” “Why can’t Puerto Rico vote for president?” “Why can Puerto Rico vote in US elections?” These are some of the ways that this question is phrased, and thousands of people have asked.

So here’s the answer.

U.S. citizens do not vote directly for our president. Citizens in each state vote for representatives who vote on our behalf.

Each state has electors: one for each representative in Congress and one for each Senator. At the moment, there are 538 electors. Once the people of a state have voted for president, the state determines how many electors each candidate has. Most states have a winner-take-all system: whoever had the largest number of votes gets all the electors.

There are a couple of states that divide the electors up among the candidates in proportion to the number of votes they received, but in most cases, if a candidate wins a state he or she will get the votes of all the electors of that state.

The electors for each state meet in their states in December after the November election. They cast their votes and send the information to the Congress. In January, the votes are officially counted in Congress and the Vice President of the United States (who is the President of the Senate) announces the results.

More on the Electoral College:

So it isn’t so much that Puerto Ricans can’t vote, but that Puerto Rico, having no electors, can’t vote. Puerto Rico has no electors because Puerto Rico has no voting members of Congress and no senators.

People from Puerto Rico can vote in presidential elections if they move to a state. People from states can’t vote in a presidential election if they move to Puerto Rico.

Is this right or fair? No. Citizens of a nation should be able to vote in presidential elections. They should have representation in the legislature, too, and if Puerto Rico had representation in the legislator, Puerto Rico would also have electors — and Puerto Rico could vote in the presidential election.

How can Puerto Rico get the vote? By becoming a state.

It’s time.



20 Responses

      • Wrong, Puerto Rico no es un estado de los Estados Unidos de America, por lo tanto para poder votar en las eleciones presidenciales de los USA deberian mudarse a un Estado de USA.
        Puerto Rico no es un estado incorporado a la Ciudadania de los Estados Unidos

  1. I moved to Florida and voted for president,at last i enjoied full citizenship. France allows its colonies to vote for president.Why is Puerto Rico treated as a third world country? I can’t find anyithing that makes sense.My conclussion, U.S.Congress is extra Lazy,

    • I think they should be allowed to vote because they are a territory and they are affected by the presidential out come , like 45 he is totally ignoring our territory by not helping like they should after hurricane Maria

    • Thank you, Amy, for the comment. You may not know that nearly half of all Americans don’t pay income tax. About 44% of people in the states don’t pay any income tax. Unlike residents of Puerto Rico, they may also receive refunds even though they pay nothing in, because of tax credits like the EITC and the Child Tax Credit. People living in Puerto Rico pay payroll taxes that cover the cost of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Who pays income tax has nothing to do with who votes.

      • When I was in the Marines, many of my fellow Marines from my units were from P.R. They never said they could not vote or anything like this. I was in from 1975-1985. This information I am now seeing needs to be changed, and I mean NOW. IT’S LONG OVERDUE FOR OUR MEN TO SERVE, AND NOT VOTE. THIS IS SHAMEFULL AND CHANGE IS NEEDED.

        • I disagree with you. Paying your fair share has everything to do with it. Anyone who pays nothing should not be able to vote period.

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