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Puerto Rico Heads to Polls to Vote on Statehood

Since 1900, the island of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States, with a population of more than 3 million people and an economy that relies heavily on tourism.

While the citizens of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, they are not a state, and thus do not have the same power, or obligations, as those who live in the 50 United States. While Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in Congress, its citizens are exempt from paying personal income taxes.

For years, the issue of statehood as emerged in Puerto Rico, but has been rejected by Congress on multiple occasions, but the issue continues to exist.

puerto rico statehood

On Sunday, the people of Puerto Rico will go to the polls yet again to vote on the issue of statehood, and if approved will then move to the U.S. Congress for review.

From The Hill:

If statehood wins, as expected, the island will enact what’s known as the Tennessee Plan, an avenue to accession by which U.S. territories send a congressional delegation to demand to be seated in Washington. Puerto Rico will send two senators and five representatives, chosen by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D), later this year, once the plan is put into action.

Statehood remains a long shot as many Republicans are wary of adding a 51st state that could add two Democratic senators and seven Democratic electors to the Electoral College. Others, noting the examples of Alaska and Hawaii, both added to the union in 1959, say it can be difficult to predict how territories will vote as states.

“Those are the same people that 60 years ago said that Hawaii was going to be a super Republican state and Alaska was going to be super Democratic, and that’s why we brought them in together,” said José Fuentes Agostini, the head of Puerto Rican Republicans in the states.

The Puerto Rican Republican Party is adamantly pro-statehood. And the national Republican Party has supported statehood since the 1940s, most clearly in its 2016 platform.

Democrats clearly advocate Puerto Rican statehood, not for any just or moral reason, but for pure political motives, as it would likely result in two Democrat Senators and increased Electoral College seats for their party as well.

Puerto Rico is also currently embroiled in a major debt crisis, and statehood would force the federal government, and U.S. taxpayers, to bailout the island, which would have to balance its finances if it became a state.

While the people of Puerto Rico have been pushing to join the union, a growing number of California residents are pushing their state to leave the United States altogether, or split the state in half, likely giving the new states two Democrat and two Republican Senators each.

Do you think Puerto Rico should be granted statehood or is this simply a ploy by Democrats to gain additional seats in Congress? Share your thoughts below! 

 

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