Despite the low turnout, Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly for statehood during Sunday’s referendum, the first step toward becoming the 51st state of the United States.
Based on late returns, about 97 percent of those who voted favored statehood. However, only 500,000 Puerto Ricans, which represent just 23 percent of the electorate, casted their ballots.
In a statement, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said, “Today, we the people of Puerto Rico are sending a strong and clear message to the US Congress… and to the world… claiming our equal rights as American citizens.”
The vote is non-binding because it’s still up to the U.S. Congress to make the tiny territory a state.
But because of its huge debt and high unemployment, U.S. lawmakers are unlikely to comply to Puerto Rico’s demands.
Puerto Rico-born Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York dismissed the referendum process, arguing the results can’t be trusted because of the low turnout.
The Gateway Pundit reports:
Sunday, Puerto Rican voters looked like they were headed to choose statehood over independence (or the status quo), but the referendum most likely won’t change a thing for the island territory.
At the time of reporting, over 97% of voters chose statehood. The referendum is “non-binding” and would only move forward if Congress approved of it, which most likely will not happen considering the island’s debt of over $70 billion and its 45% poverty rate.
If granted statehood, Puerto Rico would be granted access to federal funds and in that same breath would be the same as any other U.S. State.