State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Puerto Rico

Continuing One-Hundred Years of Federal Disenfranchisement in Puerto Rico

In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act granting Puerto Ricans American citizenship. Last June 11th Puerto Rico held its sixth plebiscite (popular vote) on altering its territorial relationship with the United States. This was Puerto Rico’s fifth plebiscite on this issue in twenty-six years. While 97% voted in favor of Puerto Rican statehood, as a result of political boycotts, only 23% of the eligible voters participated. Voter turnout in previous plebiscites ranged from 60% to 78%. Continue reading

Puerto Rico Might Expand the Franchise to Include Illegal Immigrants

By: Hannah Whiteker

In January of this year, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, made an announcement that would be political suicide for any politician in the mainland United States. Garcia Padilla, standing beside President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic, announced a proposal to broaden the voting franchise to include every resident of Puerto Rico, regardless of legal status. It is an established fact that illegal immigrants cannot vote in U.S. elections. This is also the current law in Puerto Rico. However, Garcia Padilla expressed his opinion that since every person who chooses Puerto Rico as his or her home is affected by the decisions that the government makes,  all residents should have the right to participate in deciding who governs. So far, neither the Governor nor the members of his political party, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), has drafted a bill on this issue. However, the Governor’s proposal sparked discussions about the constitutionality of giving illegal immigrants the right to vote, particularly given Puerto Rico’s relationship with U.S.

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Put the Sewing Kit Away: Puerto Rican Statehood Desired, But Not Likely

by David Noll, Associate Editor

The people of Puerto Rico have, for the first time ever, voted in favor of statehood in the United States. While all 50 states have citizen petitions to secede from the Union, Puerto Rico has chosen to enter our Union. Puerto Ricans voted against statehood twice in the Clinton administration, a time when a booming U.S. economy would have made statehood very beneficial. The vote for statehood now, in a weak U.S. economy, signals two big changes in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

The general expectation would be that Puerto Rico would want to keep its commonwealth status in weak economic times. In strong economic times Puerto Rico benefits from massive U.S. tourism and the easier it is for people to travel there, the better for tourism. In an economic slowdown, the lower tax rate that can be sustained in a protectorate (especially for the gambling industry) is more important to keep vacations to Puerto Rico cheap. But this would suggest Puerto Ricans should have voted against statehood in the November elections. Continue reading

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