Puerto Ricans favor statehood in 2012 vote - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Puerto Ricans vote in favor of statehood

Posted: Updated:
Could San Juan (pictured) become a state capital city? Puerto Ricans voted to become a state in the 2012 election. (Source: TripAdvisor/wieserj) Could San Juan (pictured) become a state capital city? Puerto Ricans voted to become a state in the 2012 election. (Source: TripAdvisor/wieserj)
  • Most ReadMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Meridian's Bonnie Blue Dulaney crowned Miss Hospitality

    Meridian's Bonnie Blue Dulaney crowned Miss Hospitality

    Sunday, July 27 2014 12:42 AM EDT2014-07-27 04:42:42 GMT
    A Senior Mississippi State University biochemistry major from Meridian has been crowned Mississippi's Miss Hospitality for 2014. Bonnie Blue Dulaney, 21, won the Miss Hospitality Pageant in HattiesburgMore >>
    A Senior Mississippi State University biochemistry major from Meridian has been crowned Mississippi's Miss Hospitality for 2014.More >>
  • Sex allegations lead to investigation at PACE Head Start

    Sex allegations lead to investigation at PACE Head Start

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:52 PM EDT2014-07-25 23:52:45 GMT
    An interim agency will take over operations of the Forrest County PACE Head Start Program due to the failure of properly reporting sexual abuse allegations. The Administration for Children and FamiliesMore >>
    An interim agency will take over operations of the Forrest County PACE Head Start Program due to the failure of properly reporting sexual abuse allegations.More >>
  • Victim of Jackson gang rape sends warning to metro area women

    Victim of Jackson gang rape sends warning to metro area women

    Thursday, July 24 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-07-24 04:04:58 GMT
    The victim of a vicious gang rape is warning other women in the metro area. The victim and her attorney talked about the attack exclusively with WLBT. The 35-year-old woman, whose identity we are protecting,More >>
    The victim, whose identity we are protecting, said, "He put the gun to my head and told me to take my clothes off.  And that's when I couldn't do nothing. I was just standing there crying. And the other dude came from behind the truck. He put one in my side. And they bent me over in my front seat and they started raping me over and over again."
    More >>

(RNN) – While all eyes were on the U.S. mainland during Election Day 2012, the small U.S. territory of Puerto Rico voted in favor of statehood, according to election results.

While the referendum was non-binding, it marks the first time Puerto Rico rejected its current commonwealth status.

The referendum was a two-part question. The first part asked voters if they wanted to change the island's current relationship status with U.S. or leave it as is – a commonwealth. In a 54-46 margin, Puerto Ricans voted to change their current status with the U.S. The second question asked what Puerto Ricans would prefer: statehood, greater autonomy or complete independence. With 93 percent of the votes counted, statehood received 61 percent of the vote. Greater autonomy received 33 percent and independence garnered only 5 percent, according to The Associated Press.

Puerto Rican officials plan to present this information to President Barack Obama and Congress, with the latter making the decision on whether or not to grant Puerto Rico statehood.

While Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens, use U.S. currency and are able to serve in the military, they cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections and have only one non-voting delegate for representation.

Double-digit unemployment and a shrinking population are blamed for Puerto Ricans' change of heart on the statehood issue. Similar referendums in previous years were consistently rejected.

"I think people just came to realize that the current relationship simply does not create the number of jobs that we need," Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock told CNN.

Despite the referendum's results, critics say it is not an accurate picture of what Puerto Ricans want because roughly one-third of the votes cast left the optional choice question blank. And in a strange twist, Puerto Ricans' new governor-elect is reportedly anti-statehood.

If Puerto Rico is granted statehood, the island would reportedly receive five seats in the House of Representatives and two seats in the Senate. It would also receive roughly an extra $20 billion a year in funds from the federal government, according to The Associate Press. Citizens of the would-be state would also start paying federal income taxes, and companies there would have to start paying corporate taxes.

Puerto Rico has been under American control since Spain conceded it to the U.S. following the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.