Is Puerto Rico on Its Way To Becoming the 51st State?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 7 2012 12:15 PM

Is Puerto Rico on Its Way To Becoming the 51st State? Possibly.

Carlos Mendez of the Puerto Rico delegation watches the program during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Looks like Puerto Rico just voted in favor of statehood. But don't start trying to fit a 51st star onto the U.S. flag just yet—the next steps aren't quite that clear cut.

The U.S. territory's two-part, non-binding referendum vote on Tuesday showed a majority of Puerto Ricans supporting a change in national status, and a majority support for statehood.


With 96 percent of precincts reporting, just under 54 percent of voters favored a change, according to the Associated Press. The second referendum question offered a choice between three possible status changes: statehood, which took 61 percent of the vote; Sovereign free association, with 33 percent; and just 5 percent support for independence.

Congress would have to approve a Puerto Rican bid for statehood, something that President Obama has said he'd respect in the event of a clear majority decision. But it's still not clear if the White House will consider the majority votes from Tuesday enough to take up the issue.

To complicate matters, the pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno conceded defeat on Wednesday in a close race against Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who supports the island's current national status, according to the AP.

Currently, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and use U.S. currency and passports. But they have limited representation in government, and can't vote in presidential elections.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 10:23 AM From Fringe to Mainstream: How We Learned to Panic About Terrorists Crossing the Border
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
The Vault
Sept. 18 2014 9:57 AM “The Sun Never Sets Upon the British Empire,” Explained in GIF by an Old Children’s Toy
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 18 2014 8:53 AM The Other Huxtable Effect Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?