Puerto Rico Democracy Act: Legislation Biased in Favor of Statehood

The Heritage Foundation
4/27/2010

According to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House will vote on H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, later this week. The legislation provides Puerto Rico a two stage voting process and makes some non-resident Puerto Ricans eligible to vote on Puerto Rican statehood. This legislation has rigged the process in favor of making Puerto Rico the 51st state and is not a fair way to force statehood on a Commonwealth whose people may not want it. Furthermore, this may be an expensive proposition for the American people who are already on the hook for approximately $12.9 trillion in national debt.

This bill attempts to rig the voting process and denies the American people a real say on the issue of whether they want to allow Puerto Rico to be granted statehood. The fact of the matter is that Puerto Ricans have rejected statehood numerous times and this bill seems to have been written in a way to fast track statehood without a majority of Puerto Ricans favoring the idea. Furthermore, the people of the United States should be allowed a vote on whether they want to admit Puerto Rico as a new state. If the people of Puerto Rico can vote, the people of the United States should have a vote.

The legislation contains many questionable provisions. First, the legislation sets up a voting process rigged for success. The legislation sets up a preliminary vote and the voters are given two options. If a majority of Puerto Ricans vote in favor of changing the status of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to “a different political status,” then a second vote would be scheduled to poll voters on the following three options:

1. “Independence: Puerto Rico should become fully independent from the United States;”

2. “Sovereignty in Association with the United States: Puerto Rico and the United States should form a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution;” and,

3. “Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a State of the Union.”

Clearly, a plurality of the people of Puerto Rico could vote for “Statehood” without a majority of the people voting ever supporting the idea. The people of Puerto Rico have rejected statehood three times and it seems that this vote is set up to allow a simply plurality of the people to carry the day.

Another odd provision allows non-resident Puerto Ricans to vote on statehood for the Commonwealth. The bill states that “all United States citizens born in Puerto Rico who comply, to the satisfaction of the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission, with all Commission requirements (other than the residency requirement) applicable to eligibility to vote in a general election in Puerto Rico.” Residency requirements may be waived, because Puerto Ricans living in the states would naturally favor statehood for the Commonwealth.

This provision allows non-resident Puerto Ricans to undermine the will of the residents of the Commonwealth. According to the U.S. Census, there are more Puerto Ricans residing in the 50 states, than in the proposed 51st state…

The article continues at The Heritage Foundation.

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