Residents of Puerto Rico Vote for Statehood

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Governor Ricardo Rossello, right, and Congresswoman representing Puerto Rico Jennifer Gonzalez celebrate the results of a referendum on the status of the island, at the New Progressive Party headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, June 11, 2017. The governor announced that the U.S. territory overwhelmingly chose statehood on Sunday in a non-binding referendum held amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of islanders to the U.S. mainland. Voter turnout was just 23 percent. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
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Residents of Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly Sunday for statehood in a non-binding vote. The turnout was historically low, however — almost eight out of 10 voters did not participate.

As of 7 p.m. ET, the island’s election commission (CEE in Spanish) had reported that about 23 percent of the island’s eligible voters had cast ballots, or about 500,000 votes. About 97 percent of the votes were for statehood. The island’s’ governor, Ricardo Rosselló from the New Progressive Party (PNP in Spanish), along with his government, had been pushing for a “yes” for statehood as the best way to grapple with Puerto Rico’s crippling $73 billion debt.

But the island’s other two main political parties had pushed for a boycott of the plebiscite, and it showed in the turnout numbers. About 1.3 percent voted for the current commonwealth status and about 1.5 percent voted for independence. The president of the Popular Democratic Party, (PPD in Spanish), which favors the current commonwealth status, said after the vote that “statehood-ers shot themselves in the foot.”

 

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