Sunday, September 20, 2020

Puerto Ricans Vote for Statehood Amid Historically Low Turnout

On Sunday, Puerto Rico residents voted in a non-binding vote for statehood, with historically low numbers. Almost eight out of 10 voters did not participate.

“Eight out of 10 voters went to the beach, went to the river, went to go eat, went to go hang out, went to church, but they sure didn’t go out to vote,” said Popular Democratic Party (PPD) president Héctor Ferrer at a San Juan press conference. “Gov. Rosselló is now going to go to Washington and say this (statehood) is what people wanted. But we’re going too to say no, that’s not true and the numbers speak for themselves.”

As of 7 p.m. ET, the island’s election commission (CEE) had announced that about 23 percent of the island’s eligible voters had cast ballots, the equivalent of 500,000 votes. 97 percent of those votes indicated support for statehood.

Following the results, Emilio Martinez, a retiree and statehood supporter, told NBC “And this is just the beginning of a process to tell the United States how we feel and that we want to be a part of the States. We deserve to be treated equally like any other U.S. citizen. But nothing happens overnight. This is just the beginning.”

Critics of the vote believe it took valuable resources at a time when the island is already facing severe fiscal constraints, and will have no real effect on resolving Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to take up the issue of Puerto Rico’s status lies in the hands of U.S. Congress.

NBC Latino