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Old 02-07-2012, 08:43 PM   Topic Starter
alnorth alnorth is offline
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Puerto Rico will vote on the statehood question again this year.


Statehood is winning by a very strong margin with 70% reporting.

Will Mitt Romney's Embrace of Puerto Rican Statehood Play in Florida?

Gingrich Promises Puerto Rican Statehood, Cuban Spring at Orlando Event

This is a little-known issue that most people don't know about, but could abruptly surface as a really big deal early next year.

Puerto Rico is currently a commonwealth of the United States, and for the past 113 or so years the US has been trying to get them to decide their island's future (we've asked them, repeatedly, to either ask for independence, or apply to become a state, they are too big to remain a territory forever) We have other little dinky tiny territories of military significance like Guam, but nothing anywhere else close to the population and economy to credibly ask for statehood.

There are many differences between being a commonwealth and being a state, but basically the two big ones are: 1) they have no voting representation in congress and cant vote for president, and 2) They are exempt from paying federal income taxes, though they still pay medicare and social security. Obviously, if you are fine with having no autonomy and not voting, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal, P.R. gets most of the support, federal funds, and benefits of a state, without the federal taxes.

They have voted 3 times in their history on what they want their island to do. The first time "do nothing and remain a commonwealth" won overwhelmingly back in the 60's, but in 1993 a lot of people on the island wanted to apply for statehood, they voted, and statehood just barely lost. (49% stay a commonwealth, 46% apply for statehood, 5% seek independence). They voted again in 1998, and again statehood barely lost, getting 47% of the vote.

This November, 14 years after the last vote, Puerto Rico is going to vote again, and the pro-statehood governor has managed to rig things a little more cleverly this time. They will have 2 questions on the ballot, the 1st one will be "stay a commonwealth or seek a change?" The 2nd question, which becomes effective if change wins, will present 3 options: "seek independence, seek a free association, or apply for statehood". The thinking here is that the few percent of nutty independence-seekers will join the statehood vote to win on question one for change, then the commonwealth people, not wanting independence or a free association, will vote statehood.

If that happens, then sometime in 2013, Puerto Rico will probably formally petition the congress and the president to become the 51st state, and, having seen the people of the island vote to do that, our government will probably have to act. Maybe impose some requirements and a long 8-year or whatever waiting period like Alaska and Hawaii went through, but they wont be able to just flat ignore a request for statehood from a US territory that has more people than 22 other states, and that would be large enough to have at least 4 representatives in the house.

Could be interesting. If you are wondering about politics, they claim to be split. Their governor (who endorsed Romney) is republican, and their elected non-voting member of congress is a democrat.

Last edited by alnorth; 11-06-2012 at 11:00 PM..
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