On Election Day this year, for the very first time in its history, Puerto Ricans produced a majority vote in favor of becoming the 51st U.S. State. The non-binding referendum was made up of two questions: 1) Do you want to change Puerto Rico’s current status with the United States? and 2) Which new status do you prefer?
On the first question, 54% of voters indicated that they favored a change of status, while 46% voted for no change. The result of the second question produced 61% of voters choosing statehood, 33% choosing “sovereign free association,” and 6% for total independence from the United States.
Although at first glance it appears that a clear majority, 61%, of Puerto Ricans favor statehood, the devil is in the details. When you tally the number of voters who chose statehood and compare it to the total number of voters who chose something other than statehood—including independence, free association, or left the question blank altogether out of protest—what you find is that there is no clear majority in favor of statehood at all. 802,000 people voted for statehood, but 978,000 people voted for something other than statehood or not at all. This means that of the 1.7 million voters who participated in the referendum, more people (175,000 more) opposed statehood than supported it. When you account for the total number of voters, only 44.6% chose statehood.
November 1, 2012
(Arlington, VA)—ProEnglish, the nation’s leading advocate of making English the official language of government in the U.S., sent a coalition letter to both the Senate and House Leadership this week urging them to include specific English language requirements in any legislation to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st State. Twenty-one signatories join ProEnglish on the letter, including the principles of several influential national grassroots organizations, former Congressmen, and Tea Party leaders. Read the letter here.
The letter was delivered just one week ahead of the island’s November 6th referendum on statehood. Puerto Rican voters will decide whether they want to remain a commonwealth, become independent, renegotiate its current status with the U.S., or become the 51st U.S. State.
“The ultimate goal of ProEnglish and the allied groups represented on this coalition letter is to preserve the historic role of English as the unifying language of the United States,” said ProEnglish Executive Director Robert Vandervoort. “Although English and Spanish are dual official languages on the island, the de facto language of government and the schools is Spanish-only. The U.S. Congress must address the clear language discrepancy between the Puerto Rican government and the other 50 state governments.”
“We know from the enormous costs and frequent cultural conflicts that it imposes on countries like Canada and Belgium that official bilingualism would add to our budget deficit and be extremely divisive,” said Vandervoort. “Recent studies estimate that federal language translations for Puerto Rico would cost American taxpayers $26 billion a year.”
“Puerto Rican voters may very well reject statehood for the fourth time in their history next week, but in the event that they do not, we want to be sure that Congress understands that there is precedent for requiring territories to adopt English language policies. Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans want the U.S. government to unite under one official language – English.”
View the press release page here.