On Nov. 6, Puerto Ricans voted in favor of the possibility of becoming the 51st state of America. The decision would affect the future of Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the U.S. whose people cannot vote in federal elections.
According to Univision Puerto Rico, of the roughly 1.8 million Puerto Rican voters, 53.99 percent voted in favor of altering the status of the island as a commonwealth, while 46.01 percent opposed the change.
Puerto Ricans responded to change the status of the island, with 61.05 percent in favor of “statehood,” joining the U.S. as a state. However, 33.31 percent voted to remain “semi-autonomous” as a U.S. territory and 5.53 percent of Puerto Ricans voted for “independence,” to become its own country independent of their governing neighbor to the north, according to Univision Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898 when the U.S. and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris. The treaty mandated that Spain surrender Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Cuba to the U.S. Since then, Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated territory of the Union and, since 1952, an associated commonwealth.
Now that the people have voted, there are two steps before Puerto Rico achieves statehood. First, recently elected Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla must send a letter to Congress asking for Puerto Rico’s integration as a state. Then, the U.S. government must pass the legislation to declare Puerto Rico the 51st state of the Union.