According to CNN, for the very first time, Puerto Ricans voted in favor of statehood in a non-binding referendum yesterday. The poll consisted of two questions, the result of which ended with Puerto Ricans agreeing to the idea of statehood. First the majority rejected their status as a U.S. commonwealth territory.
“I think it’s weird, Puerto Rico seems so separate,” said freshman art therapy major Rebecca Roberts, “I never thought they’d become a state.”
Some Puerto Ricans argue that becoming a state might compromise the island’s language and culture. Becoming a state would force Puerto Rico to adopt English as it’s sole official language.
“America wants to be more powerful. Why not let them control one more area,” said freshman art therapy major, Taylor Bloom.
If Puerto Rico were to gain statehood, they would have two seats in the U.S. Senate and five seats in the House of Representatives. Currently they only have one non-voting delegate.
“They’re not going to know a lot about the presidency and they’ll be a lot of uninformed voters,” said Roberts.
“I feel like if they’re a state, that’s fair. If they follow all the rules states do, they get all the privileges states do as well,” said Bloom.
Although the polls showed pro statehood decisions, voters did not elect the pro-statehood governor. Gov. Luis Fortuno was one of the main advocates for the cause that would eventually push for approval from the U.S. Congress.
Congress would first direct the state to organize a constitutional convention to write a state constitution. Upon acceptance of that Constitution, Congress has the choice to admit or deny that territory as a state. They have never denied a state at this level before. The last state admitted to the union was Hawaii on August 21, 1959.
The broad outlines in this process were established by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which predated the ratification of the Constitution. However, Congress has ultimate authority over the admission of new states, and is not bound to follow this procedure.