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Puerto Rico has Voted to Become the 51st State

Puerto Rico has Voted to Become the 51st State

Congress needs to approve if the referendum stands.

Puerto Ricans went to the polls today to vote on possible statehood with America. The majority of people voted yes, but only 23% of the people voted, which could call into question the validity “of the nonbinding referendum.”

From The Wall Street Journal:

According to early results on a government website, statehood drew 97% of support with more than 90% of votes counted Sunday afternoon, but a turnout of about 23% reflected the success of a boycott effort led by opponents.

If the turnout is too low, political foes to statehood will say the vote isn’t credible, which could further hurt Puerto Rico’s already daunting chances of getting Congress to grant the island full admission to the U.S., said Christina Duffy Ponsa, an expert on constitutional law and Puerto Rican statehood at Columbia Law School.

The Popular Democratic Party, the major opposition party, asked people to boycott the vote. The party wants “to keep the island’s current status, though with more autonomy.” It also claimed that “the referendum is rigged in support of statehood, in part because the governing party had initially sought to exclude the territorial option from the ballot.”

Two other parties boycotted the vote.

This is the fifth time Puerto Rico has voted for statehood. In 2012, the results came out in favor statehood, “but the results were questioned and Puerto Rico’s status remained the same.”

If the referendum stands, the Congress needs to approve it.

Would Congress Approve?

Congress would probably deny the petition since Puerto Rico remains in a financial crisis. I blogged in May that the island has sought “bankruptcy” protection since it faces $123 billion in bond and pension debts.

The Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board invoked the Puerto Rico Debt Relief Bill, which Congress passed in 2016. As a territory, the island cannot receive the same Chapter 9 protections like the states.

With that law invoked, the island’s “standoff with creditors” will now go “before a federal judge in San Juan in a restructuring process known as Title III.” Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will select a judge to hear the case. He may choose any federal judge he wishes.


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If they don’t want to change their status, let them be.

That is a bit lower than the US voter turnout in presidential elections but even the highest years don’t hit 50% of eligible voters –

Sure, but they need to repay their debt first.

Just one small point here. This is NOT the fifth time that Puerto Rico has voted FOR statehood. There have been several referenda on the matter and the one in 2012 was the first time that a majority of those voting voted for Puerto Rico to become a state. Prior to vote in 2012, the majority of voters, voting in the referenda, voted to maintain the territorial status of Puerto Rico.

    artichoke in reply to Mac45. | June 11, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    And what do you know? They didn’t want to be a state UNTIL their financial situation was obviously terrible.

    Deny them now, get the debt cleaned up, gentrify the place a bit, then reconsider.

    rabidfox in reply to Mac45. | June 11, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    And they only got the majority vote this time because remaining a territory wasn’t an option on the ballot. 23% turn out tells me that 77% of Puerto Ricans didn’t feel like voting for statehood. I wonder if these were the status quo voters.

      Milhouse in reply to rabidfox. | June 12, 2017 at 12:56 am

      remaining a territory wasn’t an option on the ballot.

      Stop telling lies. It certainly was.

      tom swift in reply to rabidfox. | June 12, 2017 at 2:42 am

      The referendum had three options; becoming a state (which obviously isn’t really an option; it would be more properly the option to petition for statehood); some sort of independent status of vaguely unspecified nature; or maintain current “territorial” status.

      Strangely enough, there was no “Greek” option, which would be to insist that nothing change except that someone else pay their debts. That will probably be the fashion in the future.

        Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | June 12, 2017 at 11:12 am

        Becoming a state is exactly as much an option as the other two. Congress decides what will happen to PR. The referendum was to determine what PRans would like Congress to do. Had a real majority emerged from the referendum, whether for statehood or for independence, the commonwealth governor would then have to ask Congress to pretty please approve it. It would be up to Congress whether to act on it.

Why do they get to vote yea or nay if they want to be in OUR club. Shouldn’t we be voting if WE want to allow them in? As usual, this is ass-backwards!

    Milhouse in reply to olafauer. | June 12, 2017 at 12:45 am

    Because there’s no point in discussing whether to admit them until they decide whether they’re interested in applying.

Henry Hawkins | June 11, 2017 at 6:21 pm

My broke, soon to be homeless cousin held a vote and 100% agreed to move into my house.

Just what we don’t need – more dependable Democrat votes in the House and 2 more in the Senate.

No to PR statehood.

Let PR join with Haiti and together they can form their own Hate-America country, joining with Cuba.

    malclave in reply to pfg. | June 12, 2017 at 3:19 am

    And an additional 2-3 (D) electoral votes, depending on who loses the House seat after the census.

Then, only 6 more to go.

Wow. 6 more and Obama’s 57 States will become reality.
How many if we annex Canada?

The Friendly Grizzly | June 11, 2017 at 6:38 pm

No. Dear me, no! If anything, cut them loose.

    Just the kind of citizens we need. The Puerto Rican Day Parade honors a terrorist bomber whose group, the FALN, wanted independence from the US.

    I say we should all honor the terrorist and give them complete independence.

    That will save us a lot of money, keep anti-US people from becoming citizens and keep the Democrats from taking back control and trying to turn us into Venezuela.

Humphrey's Executor | June 11, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Sorry PR, but the last thing we need is two safe (D) seats in the Senate.


When do I get to vote?

Because I vote “no”.

Let them in!
It’ll make Illinois look like less of a disaster!

It is time for the US to declare independence from PR.

What is this nonsensical subtitle of “Congress needs to approve if the referendum stands.”? Who’s this Mary Chastain in the byline? An intern? Congress doesn’t need to approve anything; they decide who gets in as a state, not Puerto Rico.

The results as of now is just 22% of the electorate voting in favor of statehood. Congress should tell them to go pound sand and come back when they have a super majority. Better yet, give them a 10 years ultimatum to decide between statehood and independence and if they can’t congress will declare Puerto Rico an independent republic.

    Milhouse in reply to Ulises. | June 12, 2017 at 12:49 am

    Um, that’s exactly what she wrote. If the referendum stands then it will need Congress’s approval, which will not be forthcoming unless it’s part of a bipartisan package deal. But since most PRans seem to be against statehood there’s nothing to consider.

Henry Hawkins | June 11, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Having accepted and kept the likes of California, Illinois, and New York, it’s kind of hard to justify denying Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.

statehood drew 97% of support

This says “fraud” all over it. No election gets 97% for anything. If you asked what color the sky is, you wouldn’t get 97% voting for “blue”.

(No, I take that back—somebody did beat it, in 1936; Adolf’s referendum to approve the military occupation of the Rhineland. Not exactly a strong case for assuming a fraud-free election.)

    Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | June 12, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Nonsense. There’s no reason to doubt the 97% result. Of those who voted, I’m sure 97% did want statehood, since most of the anti-statehood people didn’t vote.

      tom swift in reply to Milhouse. | June 12, 2017 at 2:28 am

      Don’t be childish. 97%? That’s about as silly as it can get. What more reason do you demand?

        Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | June 12, 2017 at 11:16 am

        You’re being silly and childish. There is absolutely no reason why a referendum question should not get 97% support, even if everyone turns out. Many measures are just not controversial, and have no significant opposition. But there’s certainly no reason a measure can’t get 97% when the measure’s opponents explicitly called on their supporters not to vote.

Congress would probably deny the petition since Puerto Rico remains in a financial crisis.

Hardly the only, nor the most important, reason. In the past, Congress has blown off any consideration of the question due mainly to the totally alien nature of the population; there’s nothing terribly “American” about it, however you want to define “American”. For one thing, no territory with such a tiny proportion of English speakers has ever been accepted as a state.

    The fact that only 22% of those entitled to vote did it for statehood should close the matter. Although the constitution does not says anything about how a territory request to be admitted as a state it does says clearly that congress decides who gets in and congress has a right to say that it will only consider statehood if a clear majority express a desire for it.

    Also, article four, clause 2 (the property clause) says the following:

    “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State

    I interpret that to means that congress can unilaterally grants Puerto Rico independence and they should give the island an ultimatum to choose between statehood or independence or congress will decide for them.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Ulises. | June 11, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Why would we give PR an ultimatum…that craphole shouldn’t have a choice in the matter. Please cut it loose, yesterday.

    Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | June 12, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Sorry, they are not alien, they are every bit as American as you are, if not more.

      tom swift in reply to Milhouse. | June 12, 2017 at 2:30 am

      Nonsense. Not if Congress doesn’t think so. And in the past, Congress hasn’t thought so. Nothing has changed … unless you think that your opinion carries any great weight.

We need this like we need another obama.

inspectorudy | June 11, 2017 at 11:05 pm

Let’s look at the data. Over half the people in PR work for the state of US government. They owe more than the island is worth. They have so many benefits that they will never accept less. There is a hot blooded group there that will ALWAYS oppose statehood and will likely foment terror if it passes. What is the positive for the US? There aren’t any and we would have to immediately forgive their massive debt and bring in even more government aid to bring them up to our EEOC, EPA, Civil rights, Medicare, Medicaid, School standards, legal standards, all of our bureaucratic inefficiencies and to top it off it would become a tourist destination too expensive to ever visit after all of the changes! In Vegas, it’s called a “Lose-Lose”.

If and only if an English Language Amendment is added to the Constitution. Apparently, without it, the courts think that every other language in the world has equal standing in the United States.

And part of that should be that the official language of the federal government, all states and the federal district be English, and all that official government business be conducted in only English, that all laws and regulations be written in only English, and that all government transactions, including ballots, be printed only in English. And that no government shall be obligated to provide translators from public funds.

    Milhouse in reply to gospace. | June 12, 2017 at 1:01 am

    If and only if an English Language Amendment is added to the Constitution. Apparently, without it, the courts think that every other language in the world has equal standing in the United States.

    That’s because despite your supremacist fantasies, the plain fact is that they do. English is not the national language, it has no special legal status, and your wishes to the contrary don’t make the slightest difference.

      gospace in reply to Milhouse. | June 12, 2017 at 5:23 am

      And that’s the point of having an amendment giving English special status, because of idiots like you who think other cultures and languages are superior to ours, because we’re the original cause of all the evil in the world.California online voter registration is now done in English, Spanish, Californians, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. You are absolutely delusional if you think 11 different languages spoken in an area make a unified community able to discuss issues that affect them all. Can’t be done. Translation from one language into another can’t cover nuances in meaning, and English has a lot of nuances. With just two languages, there are close to zero Belgians, everyone identifies as Flemish or Walloon. I don’t know how close Catalan is to Spanish, but they’re now clamoring for independence from Spain, because they’re Catalan, not Spanish, and speak a different language.

      BTW, I feel perfectly free to judge you an idiot since you’ve declared a me a supremacist, a supremacist of what I don’t know. Difference is, you are an idiot. I’ve decided to no longer be polite to people like you. You should live in the world of intolerance you’ve created.

There will never be 51 states; as a practical matter, to get a new state admitted requires bipartisan support, and that will never be forthcoming until two states are ready to join, one Republican and one Democrat (cf Alaska/Hawaii, or North & South Dakota). So if PR were one day to seriously want statehood it would have to figure out some way to have a new Republican state apply together with it, so they could be considered as a package deal.

We do not need an English only amendment. We need to rationalize the number of languages on government documents to reflect the majority of languages spoken. Even private health insurers use multiple languages as they are regulated by Covered California, the Obamacare exchange.

At DMV locations there are racks of official driver handbooks and various other pamphlets and documents printed in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese and Tagalog. It is not my intent to discriminate against native speakers of these languages. I count among my closest friends native speakers of some of these.

The northern California coastal cities from Monterey to San Francisco used to be majority Italian with many Greeks who came for the abundant fisheries. These languages are not included in the official list of recognized languages although many still reside here, as do there descendants, who still speak their native language. In fact there has been a recent influx of Italian immigrants to these areas.

Italian is my native language and it is not recognized on the official list. Neither is German, which I speak fluently, recognized as an official language despite a significant population of old Germans and recent newcomers. I wont complain about Latin, I used to be able to converse but that skill has been lost.

Also not on the official list of languages are French, Polish, and all other European and Slavic languages. One could go to San Francisco’s Japantown or Russian neighborhood and here many native speakers. Even Obama walking down the street may even overhear an Austrian speaking perfect Austrian.

Not only no, but hell no. Become solvent again and remain so for at least 5 years, then we can talk again.