Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced has announced the there will be a status referendum on November 3rd, 2020, the general Election Day.
Puerto Ricans do not have the opportunity to vote in presidential elections, but the territory holds elections on the same date States use for presidential votes. This will also be the opportunity to vote for members of the territorial government, such as the governor, resident commissioner, and Puerto Rico legislators.
Vazquez and her rival in the PNP party’s primary for the office of Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, are in agreement that the plebiscite vote should be a simple yes or no question: Should Puerto Rico become a State of the Union?
This was the question presented in the last two territories to become States: Alaska and Hawaii. In both cases, the people voted in the affirmative, and the territories became States.
Supporters of the yes/no format say that everyone can vote sincerely for one or the other of the options.
Anti-statehood factions fight back
Polls consistently show that residents of Puerto Rico favor statehood over the other possible status options. Voters have chosen statehood in the past two plebiscites, in 2012 and 2017.
However, there are other points of view. Anti-statehood factions worked to discredit the previous votes, and have already begun to work on the same process with the new vote. Pierluisi pointed out that a yes/no vote “would leave no room for doubt.”
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon said that the federal response to the string of emergencies — hurricanes, earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic — ““demonstrate the urgency that it has for our people to achieve the equality with the rest of the states.” She also tweeted, “The signing of this status project today leads us directly to exercise our selection right in November in conjunction with the general election. It is time to say Yes to full Equality. The time has come to say yes to Puerto Rico.”
Juan Dalmau, the candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico from the Independence Party, called on his supporters to vote “No” in November. “To the plebiscite’s question, do you want to give up your Puerto Rican nationality? The resounding answer will be ‘No!'” he declared. However, independence has never managed to garner more than 5% of the vote in any plebiscite.
Carmen Yulin Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, is the other gubernatorial candidate from the main political parties in Puerto Rico, standing for the PDP. She has made no statement on the subject at this time.