Published On: Mon, Nov 12th, 2012

Puerto Rico voters approve US statehood initiative

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – For the first time, voters in Puerto Rico have approved a ballot initiative calling for statehood, a process that can only be completed by the US Congress.

On election day, citizens in Puerto Rico were asked two questions -- one if they were happy with their current status as a commonwealth of the United States and another that gave them three alternate options: independence, statehood and sovereign free association.

The majority were in favour of statehood for the first time since the people of Puerto Rico received US citizenship in 1917.

Three previous ballot initiatives failed to get a majority of support. Article IV of the US Constitution gives Congress the authority to decide on state admissions. The last states admitted were Alaska and Hawaii in 1959. US President Barack Obama has said he would support the will of the Puerto Rican people on statehood.

According to the Associated Press, 900,000 Puerto Rican voters or 54 percent said they were not happy with the current status. In the follow-up question, nearly 800,000 or 61 percent chose statehood as their preferred option, 437,000 picked sovereign free association and 72,560 selected independence. Roughly 500,000 people left the question blank.

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