The Bill states that its intent is “to enable the people of Puerto Rico to choose a permanent, non-territorial, fully self-governing political status for Puerto Rico and to provide for a transition to and the implementation of that permanent, non-territorial, fully self-governing political status, and other purposes.”
The bill calls for a plebiscite on November 5, 2023, that will offer eligible voters to choose one of three options (1) Independence [from the United States of America], (2) Sovereignty in Free Association with the United States of America, or (3) Statehood [becoming the 51st state].
It also states that a majority of votes must be cast for the plebiscite to be valid and offers a runoff plebiscite date in any case that a majority of votes is not cast on the proposed date on November 5, 2023.
Puerto Rico has held numerous plebiscites in the past, all of which did not receive whole participation but enough to validate the proposed plebiscite in 2023:
•1967- 707,000 votes with 60% against statehood.
•1991- 1.2 million votes with 53% against statehood.
•1993- 1.7 million votes with 49% against statehood and 46% in favor.
•1998- 1.57 million votes with 50% against statehood and 46% in favor.
•2012- 1.88 million votes with 61% in favor of statehood and 33% against.
•2020- 1.29 million votes with 53% in favor of statehood and 48% against.
There was another plebiscite worth mentioning. In 2017, another “yes or no” plebiscite was held where only 23% of the registered voters participated. The 23% represented 503,000 registered voters. It was described as a complete disaster by editor and reporter A. W. Maldonado.
Puerto Rico is divided on the issue and independence is becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation. This popularity had an admirable effect on the 2016 election. This became even more evident in the 2020 election where 35.1 (spread but a majority of voters) voted other than the traditional blue and red political parties.
The proposed bill is still a draft and will go through a process that includes meetings with government officials in Puerto Rico. There is also a web page encouraging the registration of interested stakeholders to provide input. The bill is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives before moving on to Senate.
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