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Puerto Rican Statehood – Don’t Rig the Election

From The Heritage Foundation:

H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, contains language that will rig the election in favor of Puerto Rican statehood. I have written a more comprehensive post titled “Puerto Rico Democracy Act – Legislation Biased in Favor of Statehood” on why this legislation is biased in favor of statehood. The Senate is the next stop for this legislation, and it will be interesting to see if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tries to bring up the bill this year. One important point of contention is the fact that this process is far different from the pathways of Alaska and Hawaii to statehood.

As I wrote on the Foundry:

The legislation contains many questionable provisions. First, the legislation sets up a voting process rigged for success. The legislation sets up a preliminary vote and the voters are given two options. If a majority of Puerto Ricans vote in favor of changing the status of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to “a different political status,” then a second vote would be scheduled to poll voters on the following three options:

1. “Independence: Puerto Rico should become fully independent from the United States;”

2. “Sovereignty in Association with the United States: Puerto Rico and the United States should form a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution;” and,

3. “Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a State of the Union.”

 This vote is rigged. The Puerto Rican people have rejected statehood on three occasions. The first vote was in 1967 when the people of Puerto Rico chose to continue as a Commonwealth (60%) over the other choices of statehood (39%) or independence (1%). In the two other votes, in 1993 and 1998, the people of Puerto Rico rejected statehood by closer margins. The obvious question is: why would we expect this vote to be different? We expect it to be different because the proponents of statehood have set up a false choice in the voting process.

According to H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rican people will get to vote on the following question:

Mark one of the following 2 options:

1. Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status.

2. Puerto Rico should have a different political status.”

If a majority votes for “continue to have its present form of political status,” then Puerto Rico can schedule votes every 8 years until they get a majority for Option 2. If a majority chooses Option 1, then they would be voting to say as a Commonwealth. It is odd that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico would be empowered to schedule elections every 8 years until they can pass the change option.

Read the rest at The Heritage Foundation.


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