On Election Day this year, for the very first time in its history, Puerto Ricans produced a majority vote in favor of becoming the 51st U.S. State. The non-binding referendum was made up of two questions: 1) Do you want to change Puerto Rico’s current status with the United States? and 2) Which new status do you prefer?
On the first question, 54% of voters indicated that they favored a change of status, while 46% voted for no change. The result of the second question produced 61% of voters choosing statehood, 33% choosing “sovereign free association,” and 6% for total independence from the United States.
Although at first glance it appears that a clear majority, 61%, of Puerto Ricans favor statehood, the devil is in the details. When you tally the number of voters who chose statehood and compare it to the total number of voters who chose something other than statehood—including independence, free association, or left the question blank altogether out of protest—what you find is that there is no clear majority in favor of statehood at all. 802,000 people voted for statehood, but 978,000 people voted for something other than statehood or not at all. This means that of the 1.7 million voters who participated in the referendum, more people (175,000 more) opposed statehood than supported it. When you account for the total number of voters, only 44.6% chose statehood.
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