51st State? Puerto Rico Again Votes on Status

It's Election Day in the US territory, too
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2020 12:09 PM CST
Statehood on Ballot in Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rican flag flies in front of the Capitol in San Juan.   (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

Voters across Puerto Rico on Tuesday are choosing new leaders they hope can help heal a US territory wracked by corruption, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the coronavirus pandemic, per the AP. Also on the ballot is the island's sixth referendum on whether to change its current territorial status. Voters will be asked one question: "Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the union as a state?" The vote is advisory because the US Congress would have to approve that happening, and CNN reports on the frustration among voters with that nonbinding scenario. More:

  • Among the candidates for governor of Puerto Rico is Pedro Pierluisi of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. He's the territory's former nonvoting representative in Congress and briefly served as governor following huge street protests last year that led to the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello. A majority of polls gave Pierluisi a slight lead over Carlos Delgado Altieri of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the island's territorial status.

  • In the race to become the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, three candidates are vying to replace San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, known for sparring with President Trump after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017, causing damages estimated at more than $100 billion and killing an estimated 2,975 people in its aftermath.
  • Less than two years after the storm, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets to demand the resignation of Rossello in an event known as the "Summer of 2019," a movement sparked by a leaked chat in which the then-governor and other officials made fun of hurricane victims, among other things, and made comments that led to an investigation into possible corruption.
  • Candidates also face a dwindling voter base because of emigration caused by hardship. There are 2.36 million eligible voters, compared with 2.87 million in 2016 and 2.4 million in 2012.
(Read more Puerto Rico stories.)

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