The Puerto Rico Democracy Act (H.R. 2499) would authorize a federally-sanctioned plebiscite (vote) of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their political future. H.R. 2499 provides for a two-step voting process. The first vote would allow the people of Puerto Rico to choose between selecting a “different political status” or maintaining their “present political status.” If the majority of the people vote in favor of a “different political status,” then a second vote would be held allowing people to choose between three options: independence, free association with the U.S., or statehood.
While it is said that the results of the plebiscites are non-binding, H.R. 2499 sets the stage for potential Congressional action as soon as next year on making Puerto Rico the 51st state.
The people of Puerto Rico should be able to go to the ballot box and express their views on their future political status. However, there are serious questions regarding the implications of this bill that have gone unanswered. If Congressionally-sanctioned vote is specifically sought as with H.R. 2499, then it must come with an open, thorough understanding of what independence or statehood would mean to Puerto Rico and the existing 50 states.