Puerto Rico’s lesson in bogus election results

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2012

One of the interesting results of last weeks elections that I heard mostly secondarily was that Puerto Rico had voted to support a move to statehood.

Now, I would like to see Puerto Rico resolve it’s status and I think that statehood is one possibility. It would be difficult for both Puerto Ricans and non-Puerto Ricans for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a nation with a distinct ethnic identity and different language, but it could be accomplished. We have managed the inclusion of a Polynesian kingdom, a religious homeland, a couple republics, and a sparsely populated block of ice; so I’m certain we could find a way to incorporate an island nation in the Caribbean.

I suspect this move would likely skew polling on gay equality negatively and would increase religious adherence statistics. But it would definitely benefit gay Puerto Ricans. And, as a bonus, it would resolve Anita and Rosalia’s musical debate.

But I have long become accustomed to Puerto Rico voting on their future without any clear consensus as to which direction to move in, and I was surprised to hear that over 60% voted for statehood.

And it turns out that they didn’t.

Instead they participated in a political game, an exercise in silliness designed to give advocates of statehood a talking point that had no reflection on reality. (ABC)

The territory question had two parts. The first part asked voters if they favored their current status as a U.S. territory. About 54 percent of voters said no, that they were not happy with the status quo.

From there, everyone could answer a second question that gave three options: statehood, sovereign free association or independence. Sovereign free association is not the same as the current status.

Only about 1.3 million voters answered the second question. Of those, 61 percent chose statehood, 33 percent chose the semi-autonomous choice and 6 percent chose independence, according to the AP. Nearly 500,000 people left the question blank. The population of Puerto Rico is nearly 4 million people.

To give some (very round and extrapolated) numbers:

Roughly 1,800,000 people voted. About 828,000 people like it the way it is. Of those, about 500,000 didn’t answer the second question. Some 328,000 did, listing their second choice.

Around 793,000 chose statehood as either their first or second choice. This is less than half of those voting on the issue of status.

In other words, about 44% of voters selected statehood as their first or second choice, 28% selected some other option as their first or second choice, and 28% selected the status quo as their only choice.

Ultimately the powers that be will decide what they want to do and use whatever means they choose to justify it. But when they tell you that the Puerto Rican people voted by two-thirds in favor of statehood, you can know that you are being snowed.

Lindoro Almaviva

November 12th, 2012

Let me add my 2 Puertorican cents:

These referendums used to mean something because they were rare. In the past couple of years, it seems that every administration runs one, or promises one. The last time there was a referendum on status, the commonwealth option won. I can not remember when it was, but I want to say it was less than 10 years ago. Why do you think it was non-binding?

The situation in PR, politically, is weird and difficult. We are one of the “states” with the highest level of education (going to college and getting a degree is highly desired and thought of)but the economy is in shambles. Part of the problem is that getting a job there has never been about the most qualified candidate but based on who you know.

Bluntly, PR will never be a state. If we were, we would be the poorest state of the nation and with the state of the economy, it would tax our resources even further. Given how it might take decades to fix this mess, I doubt any moves to statehood would be made, at least by congress; the ultimate authority on PR’s status.

The other issue is a matter of pride. Puertoricans are very proud of the fact that they have international representation in sports, pageants, etc. There are people out there who actually think that if we become a state, the USA will allow PR to continue to represent itself as a semi independent nation in the international stage. When these people find out that the USA (in the hypothetical case we became a state) would not go for that, this would be a sticking point and trust me, it will not play well politically for the proponents of statehood. They will catch hell and people will turn away from statehood over this.

Fact is that most Puertoricans, when asked, will tell you they are Puertoricans first and then Americans. Very few people will tell you the opposite and still to this day, those people are seen in some circles as traitors.

My theory is that eventually, the Puertorican people will be given 2 choices: Conditional independence with (very likely) common defense, currency and dual citizenship or complete independence, cut the cord and the likely possibility of joining the 3rd world because of complete economic collapse.


November 12th, 2012

Thank you for posting this! What Americans need to know is that Puertorricans are almost unanimously proud of their link to the US. What is not clear is that there is anything even remotely resembling a consensus on political status. That referendum was not a vote in favor of statehood.

leonardo Ricardo

November 12th, 2012

I lived in Puerto Rico two times. One time I owned a Condo in the Condado that I visited, on vacations, until I couldn’t stand being away from Puerto Rico anymore…not one more day. I moved there and never regretted it. I love Puerto Rico. I´m a Anglo ¨mainlander¨ from Los Angeles but mostly I now feel connected to Puerto Rico in my heart, and maybe even soul like I was born there (many transplants like me did). I was/am a Democrat. After I became a Resident with a Cedula I belonged to the New Progressive Party (PNP) which IS pro statehood. I found it comfortable to be in the mix of Republicans and Democrats in the same political party…that is, I did until a Republican, Luis Fortuño, took the Resident Commissioners Job (a few years ago and took up with the George W. Bush crowd). The last thing Puerto Rico ought elect to become is part of the Republican greedster machine, Statehood or Commonwealth…Puerto Rico would lose it’s heart and soul in the midst of such cold-blooded-opportunists/exploiters-of-others and fanatic politicos…best to return to the more idealic and genuinely loving relationship with the U.S.A. days of JFK and Governor Muñoz Marin. A relationship in keeping with passion and freedom when it was encouraged to be more spontaneously/naturally Puerto Rican.


November 13th, 2012

Personally I’d welcome Puerto Rico as a state – if the majority truly wanted to be one. I do think though that the time has come for them to pick something instead of continuing with the status quo. Statehood or independence, I’d respect either choice.


November 13th, 2012

Where did you see the 2/3 number? I read this story the day it came out, and linked it on my facebook page from TPM. They linked to the BBC and CNN and neither organiztion reported the 2/3 number. I ask because I never saw mention the number you give. And if you saw a faulty number it negates the post as to being “snowed”.

My Miami friends, from Puerto Rico, like the idea of statehood, which is why the story caught my eye.

From TPM: “CNN and the BBC reported 54 percent of Puerto Rico voters elected in the first part of a two-part referendum to change the territory’s status with the U.S., while 46 percent opposed. In the second part, 61 percent chose statehood, with 33 percent opting for the semi-autonomous “sovereign free association” and only 6 percent for independence.

The referendum, while non-binding, represents the first time a majority of Puerto Ricans have voted for statehood. Any application for statehood will need to be approved by Congress, which has never denied a petition for statehood.”


November 15th, 2012

From there, everyone could answer a second question that gave three options: statehood, sovereign free association or independence. Sovereign free association is not the same as the current status.

“From there…”

Assumes that they had to answer the first question to answer the second one.

That wasnt the case. Didnt matter what you answered on the first question or if you answered at all.

Also, 813k was the amount of voters that said Yes to status quo. 955k said NO to status quo.

819k were the ones that voted for statehood not 793k.

You should note that in 1993 the plebiscite got a total of 788k and 1998 723k… The population has been in decline for like 10years +.

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