Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, visited Florida and urged the many Puerto Ricans who live there to go to the polls in November.
Caribbean Business reported that Pierluisi exhorted Floridians from Puerto Rico to be “a voice for the island.” Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential elections, though they vote in presidential primaries.
4.7 million Puerto Ricans now live in the states, making up the second largest Hispanic group in the nation as a whole. In Florida, Puerto Ricans make up only 20% of the Hispanic population. However, since Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they can vote as soon as they take up residence in the united States, so they are the second largest group of Hispanic voters in Florida, just behind Cubans.
The Puerto Ricans of Florida are also perceived as “up for grabs” politically, according to Caribbean Business. Obama won 57% of Hispanic voters’ ballots in the last election, while Bush carried 56% in 2004. Hispanic voters may not be tied to one political party, but they have voted for the winners in the last two elections.
The Miami Herald phrased it like this: “Pedro R. Pierluisi wants Puerto Ricans in Florida to register and vote with the same enthusiasm their families do back on the island.” Voter turnout in Puerto Rico has been higher than that in the United States by significant margins — 50% higher in the late 20th century, and there is still a significant difference in the 21st century. Stateside Puerto Ricans don’t show the same high turnout rates.
Pierluisi, known for his frequent calls for better representation of U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, suggests that Puerto Ricans living in the United States might have the influence to make Puerto Rico a higher priority.