Update November 4, 8:50 pm: Puerto Ricans have voted in favor of US statehood, according to the AP, New York Times, and the island election commission, as of Wednesday afternoon.
Puerto Rico has been a US territory for 122 years. It’s the world’s oldest colony. And on Election Day, it held its sixth nonbinding referendum on the issue of statehood.
In 2012 and 2017, the island’s 3 million citizens overwhelmingly backed statehood, but Congress never took further action to admit Puerto Rico into the union. Both those votes, however, were plagued by low turnout — in fact, less than a quarter of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2017 referendum, which was boycotted by opposition parties that support either maintaining the status quo or independence.
That raised questions about the legitimacy of the vote, and has allowed congressional lawmakers to punt on the issue.
This year, Puerto Ricans are hoping to send a clear message to Congress regarding their desire to attain the rights and privileges associated with statehood.
Congress isn’t under legal obligation to abide by the outcome of the referendum, but proponents hope that, particularly if Democrats are able to take control of both Congress and the White House, strong turnout and a decisive outcome will pressure federal lawmakers to finally take up the issue.
2020 Puerto Rico statehood referendum
A yes vote means Puerto Rico would like to become a state.
A no vote means Puerto Rico would like to remain a territory.