Maria’s Hit on Puerto Rico Was Devastating!
We have recently watched as hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, subjecting all of its inhabitants to a horrendous destruction. Further, rescue and restoration steps have been slow to bring the island back to life. And life – lives – hung in the balance. Our country wept.
The humanity concerns are staggering. Not only was the infrastructure devastated but also the life support systems failed to meet the demands. People died in care centers for lack of air conditioning. Clean, drinkable water was lacking or often not available. Power was cut off so much that generators could not sustain the demand.
You’ve heard the news. You’ve listened to the distressed pleas from Puerto Rico. It shocks us and breaks our hearts.
The news is especially exasperating when we realize that these people are United States Citizens! They are us!
The Validity of Puerto Rican Statehood
Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory. Its inhabitants, while truly U.S. citizens, cannot vote in our national elections. They have neither any U.S. Representatives nor any U.S. Senators representing them. They cannot vote for our nation’s President.
Puerto Rico covers 5,320 square miles. It has a maximum length of 110 miles and maximum width of 40 miles. Though small, it is still larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a 2010 extrapolation (projection) for 2017 shows it has a population of 3,725,789 citizens. According to the World Population Review, its population is larger than 21 states. If you consider the citizens who are of voting age, the number is somewhere around 2.6 million.
But they cannot vote for our president!
Do Puerto Ricans Want Statehood?
If Puerto Rico became a state, the number of citizens they have would probably warrant having five U.S. Representatives. Couple that number with two U.S. Senators and it would mean that Puerto Rico would deserve to have seven electoral votes in our presidential elections—if they could vote.
The question of Puerto Rican statehood is a good one and has been considered several times. Many want their island to become a state, including their current Governor, and many do not. The sentiment is evolving and gradually trending toward a favorable vote for statehood.
The point in all of this discussion is that there are enough people (citizens) in Puerto Rico to warrant seven electoral votes. It catches my attention because my home state, Oregon, also has seven electoral votes.
Check out how your state would have fared in the 2016 presidential election if Equal Voice Voting were used.
Awakening my sympathies during this hurricane season makes me think that along with whatever support our country can give them, shouldn’t they also be able to vote as we do? It seems their voting voice should matter.
Having the right to vote for our national president seems to me to be a valuable right among U.S. citizens. Indeed, the title of my book, Making All Votes Count!, points to letting all U.S. citizens be heard at the ballot box. Puerto Ricans deserve to be heard, too.
If/when Puerto Ricans select statehood, let’s be ready to welcome them as our 51st state! Who votes for Puerto Rico? Right now we all do.