Since the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico has been a United States territory but on Sunday, Puerto Rico’s direction may change. Voters in the territory will cast their votes to see if Puerto Rico will officially apply to become a state.
This vote establishes the fifth time since 1967 in which Puerto Rico has voted to request statehood. On this year’s ballot, voters will have the options of keeping the status quo, requesting to become a state, or declaring independence.
By contrast to previous times, Puerto Ricans voters now have a large incentive to apply for legal status due to the island’s collapsing finances. Puerto Rico is currently $73 billion in debt and the country does not have hopes of paying off the loses in the foreseeable future. If Puerto Rican voters decide they want to apply for statehood, lobbyists will push Congress to grant Puerto Rico legal status.
Puerto Rico currently possesses a population of 3.4 million people. Generally, Puerto Ricans tend to vote in favor of liberal policies which would give a huge advantage to the Democratic party if Puerto Rico were to be granted statehood. Based on its population, Puerto Rico would be given five seats in the House along with two seats in the Senate. Therefore, under a Republican-controlled Congress, it is not likely that Congress would accept Puerto Rico’s bid unless another state was also accepted to balance out the voting bias.
Traditionally, Puerto Ricans have thought of themselves as independent from the United States, though they do value the economic gains and security that the Unites States provides to them.
The people of Puerto Rico cherish our relationship with the United States,” stated Jenniffer González-Colon, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress. “We hope to strengthen that relationship” by gaining statehood.
First reported by The Blaze.