Puerto Rico

Articles about voting issues in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico to hold statehood referendum amid disillusion | Dánica Coto/Associated Press

Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced on Saturday that she will hold a nonbinding referendum in November to decide whether Puerto Rico should become a U.S. state, a move that comes amid growing disillusion with the island’s U.S. territorial status. For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single, simple question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state? It’s an answer that requires approval from U.S. Congress and a question that outraged the island’s small group of independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party, which supports the status quo. But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment. “Everything important in life carries some risk,” said former Puerto Rico governor Carlos Romero Barceló, a member of the Progressive New Party. Previous referendums have presented voters with more than one question or various options, including independence or upholding the current territorial status, but none have been so direct as the one scheduled to be held during the Nov. 3 general elections.

Full Article: Puerto Rico to hold statehood referendum amid disillusion.

Puerto Rico: Verified Voting Puerto Rico Veto Letter P.S 1314

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March 19, 2020

Hon. Wanda Vázquez Garced (via email)

Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

La Fortaleza

San Juan, Puerto Rico

RE:      Veto of Senate Bill 1314, “Puerto Rico Electoral Code of 2020”  – Internet Voting

Dear Governor Vázquez Garced,

We, Verified Voting, the undersigned computer scientists and cybersecurity experts, write to urge you to veto Senate Bill 1314 which proposes implementing a system of internet voting in Puerto Rico. Under the provisions of this bill, Puerto Rico would phase in internet voting as the sole option for Puerto Rican citizens. As explained more fully below, internet voting cannot be accomplished securely and provides no meaningful way to verify that the computers captured or counted votes accurately. This concept is settled science, notwithstanding efforts to increase internet voting use in some areas. In the current climate when nation states have sought to interfere in other nations’ elections, Puerto Rico’s bill is a risky move. Indeed, last year the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate made bipartisan recommendations, among them that “states should resist pushes” to move their elections online because in their words, “no system of online voting has yet established itself as secure.” 1

Puerto Rico: Internet Voting Plan Threatens Election Security: ACLU | Shannon Bond/ NPR

Puerto Ricans could be casting their ballots online only in the next eight years, according to a bill that is expected to pass this week. Civil liberties advocates are ringing alarm bells over this plan to shift voting online, warning that the move threatens election security and voting rights. The American Civil Liberties Union and its Puerto Rico chapter urged the island’s governor, Wanda Vázquez, to veto a bill containing the Internet voting plan. “There is no secure way to hold elections online,” they wrote in a letter to the governor on Wednesday. “This measure is misguided, dangerous, and will needlessly expose Puerto Rico’s voting system to hacking and disruption.” The ACLU said “such disruption will only result in greater public mistrust of key democratic institutions.” The online voting plan is part of a bill to reform the U.S. territory’s electoral code. The bill is expected to be approved by the legislature by the end of this week. The measure calls for Puerto Rico’s electoral commission to create an Internet voting program that could overhaul the way all the island’s citizens cast their ballots within eight years.

Full Article: ACLU Says Puerto Rico's Push For Internet Voting Raises Security Fears : NPR.

Puerto Rico: Fiscal board calls for changes to Elections Commission | Caribbean Business

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico recommended the Government of Puerto Rico to take steps to “adjust the operations” of the island’s State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish intials) to “fluctuate with the electoral cycle” and restructure its organization to become more efficient. In a letter to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos Méndez Núñez, the board said the CEE’s operations “do not match the needs that it serves or the fiscal reality of the Island.” “The CEE should be most active in the year leading up to an election but can and should significantly reduce its operations in the remaining three years of an electoral cycle. This is what comparable electoral commissions do in most states” Chairman José Carrión wrote in the letter.

Full Article: Puerto Rico fiscal board calls for changes to Elections Commission – Caribbean Business.

Puerto Rico: Presidential Vote Issue Takes Center Stage | Caribbean Business

Following a petition filed 12 years ago, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) has finally agreed to hear the petition from former Gov. Pedro Rosselló and pro-statehood lawyer Gregorio Igartúa on Puerto Ricans’ inability to vote for U.S. presidential or congressional elections. However, the United States is objecting to the request, stating that while it is true Puerto Ricans do not vote in U.S. elections, it does not constitute a violation of the American Declaration of the Rights & Duties of Man, an international human rights declaration adopted in 1948. The commission, which meets only four times a year, holds its next meeting Oct. 5 in Boulder, Colo. Previously, in 2003, the IACHR ruled that the United States violated the declaration by denying Washington, D.C. the opportunity to participate in Congress.

Full Article: Puerto Rico’s Presidential Vote Issue Takes Center Stage – Caribbean Business.

Puerto Rico: U.S. House committee chair supports Puerto Rico statehood | Reuters

U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop said on Friday he supports the government of Puerto Rico’s efforts to introduce bipartisan legislation in Congress to grant full statehood to the U.S. commonwealth territory. “I am supportive of statehood. I think it is a solution that is long overdue,” Bishop, a Republican from Utah, said during a visit to the island that was broadcast over the internet. Puerto Rico is still in the throes of recovering from September’s devastating spate of hurricanes that killed dozens and completely knocked out power, deepening the economic woes for the island’s 3.4 million U.S. citizens. Many of them have decamped for the mainland United States in search of jobs and social services.

Full Article: U.S. House committee chair supports Puerto Rico statehood | Reuters.

Puerto Rico: Hurricane-hit Puerto Rico launches new drive for US statehood | AFP

Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Wednesday launched a new drive to become the 51st US state, with the island’s governor demanding an end to “second-class” treatment of its citizens. Puerto Rico’s more than three million residents are US citizens, with no obstacles to living and working on the mainland. Yet the US commonwealth in the Caribbean has just a non-voting delegation in the US Congress in Washington, and Puerto Rico residents cannot vote for US president. “It is time to end Puerto Ricans’ second-class citizenship, and statehood is the only guarantee for that to happen,” Governor Ricardo Rossello told a press conference in Washington.

Full Article: Hurricane-hit Puerto Rico launches new drive for US statehood.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico announces shadow congressional delegation | The Hill

Puerto Rican officials on Wednesday introduced the territory’s “Statehood Commission,” a shadow congressional delegation that will make the case for the territory’s statehood. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R) announced the commission’s members on the House floor, saying territorial status subjects Puerto Ricans “to a second-class citizenship.” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) named former governor Carlos Romero Barceló (D) and Zoraida Fonalledas (R) as shadow senators; and former governor Pedro Rosselló González (D), former governor Luis Fortuño (R), former president of the Senate of Puerto Rico Charles Rodríguez (D), former chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship Alfonso Aguilar (R), and baseball Hall of Famer Iván ‘Pudge’ Rodríguez (I) as shadow representatives.

Full Article: Puerto Rico announces shadow congressional delegation | TheHill.

Puerto Rico: Continuing One-Hundred Years of Federal Disenfranchisement in Puerto Rico | State of Elections

In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act granting Puerto Ricans American citizenship. Last June 11th Puerto Rico held its sixthplebiscite (popular vote) on altering its territorial relationship with the United States. This was Puerto Rico’s fifth plebiscite on this issue in twenty-six years. While 97% voted in favor of Puerto Rican statehood, as a result of political boycotts, only 23% of the eligible voters participated. Voter turnoutin previous plebiscites ranged from 60% to 78%. None of this bodes well for supporters of Puerto Rican statehood. Opponents to Puerto Rican statehood argue the vote is illegitimate, in part due to the original wording of the ballot, as well as the low voter turnout. In order to qualify for federal funding the ballot had to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department called the first draft of the ballot “ambiguous and potentially misleading” as it only allowed votes for statehood or independence with no reference to retaining Puerto Rico’s current territorial status. The Puerto Rican legislature amended the ballot as requested by the DOJ. However, Puerto Rico’s decided to hold the referendum instead of allowing the DOJ to review the changes.

Full Article: Continuing One-Hundred Years of Federal Disenfranchisement in Puerto Rico - State of Elections.

Puerto Rico: Florida should help protect Puerto Ricans’ voting rights | Miami Herald

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico 2 weeks ago, creating devastating damage and a humanitarian crisis for 3.5 million U.S. citizens. Today, 88 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents lack electricity, 43 percent lack water, the health care and school systems are in shambles, and over 58 citizens have died, while the president has been throwing paper towels at people and tweeting racist diatribes. All this is exacerbated by 100 percent of Puerto Ricans lacking equal access to voting rights. Under the 1917 Jones Act, Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million U.S. citizens do not have voting representatives in Congress, and cannot cast votes for president. The Jones Act was in the news recently, as it restricted non-U.S. ships from docking in Puerto Rico. After being temporarily lifted, the Act’s colonialist shipping restrictions are back in place, limiting access to life-saving supplies.

Full Article: Florida should help protect Puerto Ricans’ voting rights | Miami Herald.

Puerto Rico: Trump’s response just might bring Puerto Rico voting rights | The Hill

By not sending the U.S. military to deliver humanitarian aid sooner, President Trump has unwittingly become the advocate-in-chief for extending the right to vote for U.S. presidential nominees in the general election to Puerto Ricans. No, he has not (yet) embraced the long-standing Republican Party plank favoring Puerto Rican statehood. Instead, he has left many islanders feeling so hopeless they are fleeing to the mainland — and, along with it, garnering the opportunity to vote for president. Labeling some Puerto Rican political leaders as “ingrates,” and by waiting to act, Trump is motivating desperate islanders to flee to the mainland — mostly Florida — where they automatically can vote for all federal office holders. Even as President Donald Trump landed at Muniz Air National Guard in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Tuesday afternoon, the first three relief centers opened in Miami and Orlando to welcome Puerto Rican newcomers to Florida.

Full Article: Trump's Puerto Rico response just might bring the island voting rights | TheHill.

Puerto Rico: Governor swears in congressional delegation | The Hill

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) swore in the seven members of its Puerto Rico Statehood Commission, the delegation that will go to Washington and ask to be seated in Congress as part of the island’s bid for statehood. The commission was sworn in at a ceremony Tuesday at La Fortaleza, the governor’s official residence in San Juan. Rosselló’s father, Pedro Rosselló Nevares (D), a former governor, was named the commission’s chairman. “We will request to be recognized and to be allowed participation in Congress,” Rosselló Nevares told The Hill. Based on the island’s population, Rosselló named five representatives and two senators. That’s the number of members in Congress that Puerto Rico would have if it were a state.

Full Article: Puerto Rico swears in congressional delegation | TheHill.

Puerto Rico: Governor pushes statehood after boycott-plagued vote | Politico

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Thursday demanded that the U.S. government recognize his commonwealth as the 51st state, citing the island’s overwhelming vote for statehood four days ago. He faces long odds. “The U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico have taken a stand and have pleaded a choice,” said Rossello, speaking in a small, half-empty room occupied by reporters and his own staff at the National Press Club in Washington. Yet while 97 percent of those who participated backed statehood in the June 11 vote, the nonbinding referendum was boycotted by opposition parties, who either support the current commonwealth status or independence. As a result, less than a quarter of eligible voters cast ballots. Héctor Ferrer, the head of the opposition Popular Democratic Party, called the referendum “a rigged process,” in an interview with POLITICO this month.

Full Article: Puerto Rico governor pushes statehood after boycott-plagued vote - POLITICO.

Puerto Rico: Governor to take statehood case to Washington but faces US snub | The Guardian

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricard Rosselló, has announced that he is to visit Washington in the next phase of his campaign to turn the island into the 51st state of the United States. Rosselló will go to the US capital armed with a 97% backing for statehood from voters in Sunday’s plebiscite on the future of the stricken US colony. But he faces an uphill struggle impressing his case on the US Congress, which holds ultimate power over Puerto Rico, given the historically low turnout of the vote and the boycott staged by opposition parties. The governor, a 38-year-old member of the ruling Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), insisted the referendum sent a clear and strong message to Washington. “From today, the federal government will no longer be able to ignore the voice of the majority of the American citizens in Puerto Rico. It would be highly contradictory for Washington to demand democracy in other parts of the world, and not respond to the legitimate right to self-determination that was exercised today in the American territory of Puerto Rico,” he said after the vote.

Full Article: Puerto Rico governor to take statehood case to Washington but faces US snub | World news | The Guardian.

Puerto Rico: Governor vows statehood push after referendum win | Reuters

Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday said the island’s vote in favor of becoming a U.S. state, despite low voter turnout and widespread boycotts, was “a fair and open” process that U.S. Congress should act upon. An island-wide referendum on Sunday favored statehood in a 97 percent landslide, though voter turnout reached just 23 percent as opponents of Governor Ricardo Rossello’s push to become a state boycotted the vote. The non-binding plebiscite is not expected to sway the U.S. Congress, which would have to agree to make Puerto Rico a state. Currently a U.S. territory, the island is struggling with $70 billion in debt and a 45 percent poverty rate, and is not viewed as a priority in Washington.

Full Article: Puerto Rico governor vows statehood push after referendum win | Reuters.

Puerto Rico: 23% of Puerto Ricans Vote in Referendum, 97% of Them for Statehood | The New York Times

With schools shuttered, pensions at risk and the island under the authority of an oversight board in New York City, half a million Puerto Ricans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to become America’s 51st state, in a flawed election most voters sat out. With nearly all of the precincts reporting, 97 percent of the ballots cast were in favor of statehood, a landslide critics said indicated that only statehood supporters had turned out to the polls. Opposition parties who prefer independence or remaining a territory boycotted the special election, which they considered rigged in favor of statehood. On an island where voter participation often hovers around 80 percent, just 23 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Voting stations accustomed to long lines were virtually empty on Sunday.

Full Article: 23% of Puerto Ricans Vote in Referendum, 97% of Them for Statehood - The New York Times.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico votes again on statehood but US not ready to put 51st star on the flag | The Guardian

The hall is a sea of pink and white. About 350 Puerto Ricans, mostly women, have come to hear their First Lady speak in what they hope will be the final push towards a new relationship between their island and the United States. When Beatriz Rosselló, the 32-year-old wife of the governor of Puerto Rico, finally appears at the rally outside the capital San Juan, the room erupts into a frenzy of flag-waving. The American Stars and Stripes with its 50 stars, and the Puerto Rican emblem, with its single one, intertwine amid the flurry, giving the illusion that they have fused: 51 stars in a single banner of red, white and blue. … Rosselló and her supporters of the governing Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) hope to take that spirit of unification to the polling stations on Sunday when Puerto Rico holds its fifth plebiscite on statehood in 50 years. The ambition is to deliver such a resounding cry from the island’s 3.4 million citizens that Washington will be forced to take Puerto Rico on board as the 51st state of the United States.

Full Article: Puerto Rico votes again on statehood but US not ready to put 51st star on the flag | World news | The Guardian.

Puerto Rico: Voters go to the polls for statehood | The Hill

Puerto Rico’s government is banking on a push for statehood to solve the structural issues that led to its financial crisis. Puerto Ricans will vote Sunday to decide the territory’s status. If statehood wins, as expected, the island will enact what’s known as the Tennessee Plan, an avenue to accession by which U.S. territories send a congressional delegation to demand to be seated in Washington. Puerto Rico will send two senators and five representatives, chosen by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D), later this year, once the plan is put into action. Statehood remains a long shot as many Republicans are wary of adding a 51st state that could add two Democratic senators and seven Democratic electors to the Electoral College.

Full Article: Puerto Rico goes to the polls for statehood | TheHill.

Puerto Rico: Could Commonwealth Become A State? Ricardo Rossello Vows To Make History | International Business Times

Puerto Rico’s longtime movement toward statehood saw a significant victory Tuesday night after Puerto Ricans elected Ricardo Rossello of the New Progressive Party in a tightly fought gubernatorial race. Rossello is a vocal supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico and vowed on the campaign trail to turn the debt-ridden Caribbean island into the 51st state. Puerto Ricans are eager for change. More than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island of 3.5 million people in recent years because of an economic crisis that has seen schools shut down and a shortage nurses and doctors. Puerto Rico owes $70 billion in public debt. “I’m honored Puerto Rico gave me an opportunity. … We will establish a quality of life that will allow (Puerto Ricans) to return to the land where they were born,” Rossello, 37, said.  He carried nearly 42 percent of the vote, or 566,000 votes, against his main opponent, David Bernier, who had more than 527,000 votes, or 39 percent. Bernier, of the ruling Popular Democratic Party, sought to follow Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who did not seek a second term.

Full Article: Puerto Rico Election Results: Could Commonwealth Become A State? Ricardo Rossello Vows To Make History.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Ricans Flocking to Mainland Could Sway Swing States | Associated Press

Residents of Puerto Rico can’t vote in presidential elections. But with the island’s economy in shambles, many are fleeing to the U.S. mainland, potentially shifting demographic norms in some of the most closely contested states. The impact of Puerto Rican migrants on the election hinges on how successful voting advocates are in getting them to the polls, with many focused more on finding jobs, homes and schools. Together, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio — three pivotal states in the fall — absorbed more than 22,500 Puerto Rican migrants in 2013 alone. Many more Puerto Ricans already living on the mainland have relocated to these states from traditional hubs such as New York.

Full Article: Puerto Ricans Flocking to Mainland Could Sway Swing States - ABC News.