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.
Articles about voting issues in Puerto Rico.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.