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article imagePuerto Rican's vote to become 51st state

By Greta McClain     Nov 7, 2012 in Politics
Although Puerto Ricans were not able to vote in the 2012 Presidential election, they did turn out to the polls to decide if they would be able to vote in future elections.
The Puerto Rican legislature approved Law 283 in November of 2011. The legislation added a referendum to the November 6, 2012 ballot which allowed citizens of the U.S. territory to decide whether to become the 51st state or remain with the status quo.
The two-part referendum asked voters 2 questions. First voters were asked if they wanted to change their relationship with the United States. If they chose yes, they were asked how they would like to change it. Three options were given: U.S. statehood, independence or "sovereign free association". The latter option would have given Puerto Ricans more political autonomy.
According to WTSP, 54 percent of voters chose to change the island's status. Of the 54 percent, 61 percent voted for statehood, while 33 percent voted for sovereign free association, and 5.5 percent wanted independence.
In 1967, 1993 and 1998, similar non-binding referendums were introduced, but none ever obtained more than 5 percent of the vote.
Jerome Lefebre, 25-years-old, told CBS News:
"Puerto Rico has to be a state. There is no other option. We're doing OK, but we could do better. We would receive more benefits, a lot more financial help."
Not everyone is as enthusiastic as Lefebre. Twenty-nine-year-old Aina Calimano, told the Miami New Times:
"Puerto Rico cannot be independent, but I don' t know if it's a good idea to become a state. I think the people think that it will be better because they think they will receive more benefits without doing anything. Eighty percent of the people over there don't know English. They want to be a state but they don't know anything about speaking another language. I like the idea that we are U.S. citizens but not a real state."
Both the U.S. Senate and House must vote by a two-thirds majority to accept Puerto Rico as a state. The last state to be given statehood was Hawaii in 1959.
More about Election 2012, 2012 election, Puerto rico, Statehood, State
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