The 2017 Plebiscite for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico was held on June 11. This is the fifth vote on the political status of Puerto Rico since the United States annexed the island in 1898.
Only 23 percent of the 2,260,804 registered Puerto Rican voters participated. This is in stark contrast to the last plebiscite held in 2012 – in which 1,363,854 people, or 78.19 percent of registered voters, cast a ballot.
However, the statehood option received 502,616 votes, or 97.18 percent of the votes cast. The sovereignty/independence option received 7,779 votes, or 1.5 percent. The current territorial status option received 6,821 votes, or 1.32 percent.
This plebiscite was not authorized or certified by the U.S. Department of Justice or Congress, which throws its impact into question. Although the U.S. DOJ did not offer any reasons for not certifying the plebiscite, the most likely reason is a dispute over the language of the ballot, which was the subject of a memorandum the DOJ sent to the Governor of Puerto Rico in April.
Given the low voter turn-out and the failure of the U.S. DOJ to certify the plebiscite, Congress is likely to ignore the outcome of this vote – much as it did in 2012.
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