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  Talk Elections
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  U.S. General Discussion (Moderators: TexasGurl, From Prussia With Love, Associate Justice PiT)
  Should Congress authorize a binding referendum on Puerto Rico statehood?
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Question: Should Congress authorize a binding referendum on Puerto Rico statehood?
#1
Yes
 
#2
No
 
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Total Voters: 33

Author Topic: Should Congress authorize a binding referendum on Puerto Rico statehood?  (Read 391 times)
2,868,691
Harry
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« on: June 29, 2020, 12:19:01 am »
« edited: June 29, 2020, 12:23:23 am by 2,868,691 »

It seems unlikely that the current Congress will allow it (even though the Republican platform officially supports statehood), but let's ignore the issue of will they and ask if they ought to.

The best approach, in my opinion, is for Congress to direct Puerto Rico to hold a referendum with a single question on the ballot "Shall Puerto Rico become a state?" with Yes and No the only options. The referendum would be binding - Congress must accept whatever the outcome is. If somebody wants to boycott the election, whatever, but the results we get will be honored. In exchange, Congress can prohibited from asking again for some length of time (10 years? 15?) if No wins.

A second question would be whether there are any Republican senators who might approve this. Rubio?
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MR. KAYNE WEST
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2020, 12:27:52 am »

No
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brucejoel99
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2020, 01:07:44 am »

Alternatively, if this November's statehood referendum is successful & isn't boycotted, Congress - presuming the Democrats successfully take back the Senate - can just move to straight-up admit them to the Union a-la DC (whose 2016 statehood referendum was also non-binding).
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SteveRogers
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2020, 07:42:09 am »

Alternatively, if this November's statehood referendum is successful & isn't boycotted, Congress - presuming the Democrats successfully take back the Senate - can just move to straight-up admit them to the Union a-la DC (whose 2016 statehood referendum was also non-binding).
What counts as “not boycotted” though?
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Harry
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2020, 08:00:03 am »

Alternatively, if this November's statehood referendum is successful & isn't boycotted, Congress - presuming the Democrats successfully take back the Senate - can just move to straight-up admit them to the Union a-la DC (whose 2016 statehood referendum was also non-binding).
What counts as “not boycotted” though?
And why should a modern first world country allow its elections to be boycotted anyway? If Trump boycotts the 2020 election, does he get to claim it doesn't count?
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badger
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2020, 12:04:10 pm »

Alternatively, if this November's statehood referendum is successful & isn't boycotted, Congress - presuming the Democrats successfully take back the Senate - can just move to straight-up admit them to the Union a-la DC (whose 2016 statehood referendum was also non-binding).
What counts as “not boycotted” though?
And why should a modern first world country allow its elections to be boycotted anyway? If Trump boycotts the 2020 election, does he get to claim it doesn't count?

This is actually a noteworthy problem. The independence movement has consistently boycotted the last several referendum on Puerto Rican status, primarily because they know they have minimal popular support and would be humiliated at the polls. A boycott allows them to claim with at least a semi straight face that the giant silent majority supporting Independence heated their calls and refuse to acknowledge the illegal imperialist Yankee referendum, etc etc.

It's a crap argument considering how poorly Independence fairs in opinion polls, but it accomplishes the end result of at least somewhat weakening the legitimacy of such votes.

Answer the question, I'm tempted to say make it clear that boycotts schmoycott, the vote counts. If they want to argue for decades afterwards that there taking their ball and going home rather than participating in an open Fair election mint the vote for statehood was illegitimate, history will justifiably shrug and write them up as a footnote.
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brucejoel99
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2020, 12:17:21 pm »

The main reason they boycotted it last time was that the only 2 options were initially statehood & independence, which invalidated the terms for federal funding to be used, but they went through with it anyway. Also, the referendum wasn't held on Election Day. (Of course, boycotting it because they were gonna lose so that they could claim the referendum wasn't official due to low turnout was certainly part of the plan, but there were indeed some actual legitimate problems with the referendum too.)

Since this referendum will be on Election Day & is much more clearly worded than the last 2, I don't think you'll see any boycotts this time around. So far, all of the leaders of the opposition parties seem to be asking people to vote no instead of boycott, but we'll see if they change their minds if polling ends up showing some bad signs for them.
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badger
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2020, 12:21:11 pm »

The main reason they boycotted it last time was that the only 2 options were initially statehood & independence, which invalidated the terms for federal funding to be used, but they went through with it anyway. Also, the referendum wasn't held on Election Day. (Of course, boycotting it because they were gonna lose so that they could claim the referendum wasn't official due to low turnout was certainly part of the plan, but there were indeed some actual legitimate problems with the referendum too.)

Since this referendum will be on Election Day & is much more clearly worded than the last 2, I don't think you'll see any boycotts this time around. So far, all of the leaders of the opposition parties seem to be asking people to vote no instead of boycott, but we'll see if they change their minds if polling ends up showing some bad signs for them.

Can't wait to see what the polls show. Anyone have any idea whatsoever how difficult or not it is to poll Puerto Rican elections?
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beaver2.0
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2020, 04:07:24 pm »

Yes.  Once they're a state they're in.  This is not a decision to be made lightly.
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Senator tack50 (Lab-Lincoln)
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2020, 04:51:38 am »

The main reason they boycotted it last time was that the only 2 options were initially statehood & independence, which invalidated the terms for federal funding to be used, but they went through with it anyway. Also, the referendum wasn't held on Election Day. (Of course, boycotting it because they were gonna lose so that they could claim the referendum wasn't official due to low turnout was certainly part of the plan, but there were indeed some actual legitimate problems with the referendum too.)

Since this referendum will be on Election Day & is much more clearly worded than the last 2, I don't think you'll see any boycotts this time around. So far, all of the leaders of the opposition parties seem to be asking people to vote no instead of boycott, but we'll see if they change their minds if polling ends up showing some bad signs for them.

Can't wait to see what the polls show. Anyone have any idea whatsoever how difficult or not it is to poll Puerto Rican elections?

Well, I think PR does not see many polls in the first place?

I can't even find any statehood polls for 2020. Using the Gubernatorial race as a proxy (which will take place on election day 2020), the only poll I found has the pro-statehood PNP up 38-23 at worst.

https://www.telemundopr.com/noticias/puerto-rico/pnp-se-quedaria-con-la-gobernacion-segun-encuesta/2054679/

So not really all that useful of a poll tbh
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2020, 09:09:34 am »

No, Congress is a Constitutional authority that should not be "bound" by the whims of a popular referendum.

If Congress wants to admit PR as a state (either with or without a referendum), then it should do simply that.
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brucejoel99
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2020, 11:54:38 am »

No, Congress is a Constitutional authority that should not be "bound" by the whims of a popular referendum.

If Congress wants to admit PR as a state (either with or without a referendum), then it should do simply that.

Nobody's saying they need to be bound by a referendum (though, obviously, if Congress wants to bind themselves to a referendum, then they're just as free to use their "Congressional authority" to do so), but they should obviously consider the wishes of the local population (or, at the very least, the local government) when deciding to do so. Yes, it's legally only up to Congress but that doesn't mean PR shouldn't have a say in whether it becomes a state.
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2020, 12:15:04 pm »

No, Congress is a Constitutional authority that should not be "bound" by the whims of a popular referendum.

If Congress wants to admit PR as a state (either with or without a referendum), then it should do simply that.

Nobody's saying they need to be bound by a referendum (though, obviously, if Congress wants to bind themselves to a referendum, then they're just as free to use their "Congressional authority" to do so), but they should obviously consider the wishes of the local population (or, at the very least, the local government) when deciding to do so. Yes, it's legally only up to Congress but that doesn't mean PR shouldn't have a say in whether it becomes a state.

Harry’s proposal to offer PR a “binding” statehood referendum is not possible because the Constitution makes no provision for states to be admitted absent an act of Congress.  If Congress bound itself (as you suggest) it would also be non-legally enforceable, and especially so on any future Congresses (which would be an issue if the referendum was scheduled to coincide with a midterm or presidential election).

If a plebiscite is required, Congress needs to pass an admission act that is only enforceable upon a winning statehood referendum question.  Same result as Harry’s proposal, but Congress conditionally admitting PR stands up to Constitutional
scrutiny while a “binding referendum” does not. 
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brucejoel99
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2020, 12:27:59 pm »

No, Congress is a Constitutional authority that should not be "bound" by the whims of a popular referendum.

If Congress wants to admit PR as a state (either with or without a referendum), then it should do simply that.

Nobody's saying they need to be bound by a referendum (though, obviously, if Congress wants to bind themselves to a referendum, then they're just as free to use their "Congressional authority" to do so), but they should obviously consider the wishes of the local population (or, at the very least, the local government) when deciding to do so. Yes, it's legally only up to Congress but that doesn't mean PR shouldn't have a say in whether it becomes a state.

Harry’s proposal to offer PR a “binding” statehood referendum is not possible because the Constitution makes no provision for states to be admitted absent an act of Congress.  If Congress bound itself (as you suggest) it would also be non-legally enforceable, and especially so on any future Congresses (which would be an issue if the referendum was scheduled to coincide with a midterm or presidential election).

If a plebiscite is required, Congress needs to pass an admission act that is only enforceable upon a winning statehood referendum question.  Same result as Harry’s proposal, but Congress conditionally admitting PR stands up to Constitutional
scrutiny while a “binding referendum” does not. 

Yes, Congress obviously can't bind future Congresses but there's nothing that stops them from binding themselves (i.e. the 117th can bind the 117th). And presumably, yes, a "binding referendum" would - by letter of the law - indeed come in the form of an admission act that only takes effect upon statehood winning a referendum as prescribed by law. Saying those are necessarily 2 different things is a bit incorrect since the referendum would still be binding, in that the result would determine whether or not the admission act actually goes into effect.
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Mr. Reactionary
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2020, 12:32:56 pm »

Full independence. Reject whitey imperialism.
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2020, 12:49:21 pm »
« Edited: June 30, 2020, 12:53:56 pm by Del Tachi »

No, Congress is a Constitutional authority that should not be "bound" by the whims of a popular referendum.

If Congress wants to admit PR as a state (either with or without a referendum), then it should do simply that.

Nobody's saying they need to be bound by a referendum (though, obviously, if Congress wants to bind themselves to a referendum, then they're just as free to use their "Congressional authority" to do so), but they should obviously consider the wishes of the local population (or, at the very least, the local government) when deciding to do so. Yes, it's legally only up to Congress but that doesn't mean PR shouldn't have a say in whether it becomes a state.

Harry’s proposal to offer PR a “binding” statehood referendum is not possible because the Constitution makes no provision for states to be admitted absent an act of Congress.  If Congress bound itself (as you suggest) it would also be non-legally enforceable, and especially so on any future Congresses (which would be an issue if the referendum was scheduled to coincide with a midterm or presidential election).

If a plebiscite is required, Congress needs to pass an admission act that is only enforceable upon a winning statehood referendum question.  Same result as Harry’s proposal, but Congress conditionally admitting PR stands up to Constitutional
scrutiny while a “binding referendum” does not. 

Yes, Congress obviously can't bind future Congresses but there's nothing that stops them from binding themselves (i.e. the 117th can bind the 117th). And presumably, yes, a "binding referendum" would - by letter of the law - indeed come in the form of an admission act that only takes effect upon statehood winning a referendum as prescribed by law. Saying those are necessarily 2 different things is a bit incorrect since the referendum would still be binding, in that the result would determine whether or not the admission act actually goes into effect.

No, a Congress cannot even bind itself to the results of a future statehood referendum because the Constitution is explicit that New States be admitted by an admission act.

There's a key functional difference between what's been proposed:

A) Congress passes an act allowing Puerto Rico to organize a statehood referendum, which Congress is then bound to observe.

B) Congress passes an act admitting Puerto Rico as the 51st state, conditional on PR organizing a successful statewide referendum by xxxx date.

B is legally-enforceable while A (which is Harry's proposal from the OP) is not.  There is no Constitutional mechanism by which a referendum under Proposal A could ever be enforced as "binding" on Congress.
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Harry
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2020, 01:04:57 pm »

You're splitting hairs over pointless technicalities. The point is that Congress should direct Puerto Rico to hold a referendum with only a Y/N option and then honor the result, whatever it is. No "OK have the referendum, and oh look it passes but they are too many Democrats there so we'll just ignore it." (Also don't do the opposite if statehood loses, and don't chicken out if the result is razor thin.)

I realize that technically a binding referendum is probably impossible, but Congress should treat it like it's binding and enact the result no matter what. An official announcement that it's for real this time almost certainly increases turnout and gets a more representative result.
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2020, 01:55:43 pm »

You're splitting hairs over pointless technicalities. The point is that Congress should direct Puerto Rico to hold a referendum with only a Y/N option and then honor the result, whatever it is. No "OK have the referendum, and oh look it passes but they are too many Democrats there so we'll just ignore it." (Also don't do the opposite if statehood loses, and don't chicken out if the result is razor thin.)

I realize that technically a binding referendum is probably impossible, but Congress should treat it like it's binding and enact the result no matter what. An official announcement that it's for real this time almost certainly increases turnout and gets a more representative result.

Sorry for pointing out how a referendum would need to be organized in order for it to have the effect you desire.

The only way to force Congress to observe the results of a PR referendum is by passing an admission act that is enforceable upon a successful ballot; that isn't something you mentioned in your OP.  Saying "Congress must accept whatever the outcome is" is unnecessary if Congress has already accepted the outcome of a plebiscite under the provisions of an admission act. 
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jimrtex
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« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2020, 12:36:13 am »

Conventional practice has been that a potential state applies for statehood.

The people of Puerto Rico are sovereign. Puerto Rico would be joining the compact among the United States. It is quite presumptuous for the Congress of the United States to be ordering a referendum.

Congress should offer assistance in helping the government of Puerto Rico to organize a referendum on holding a constitutional convention, which would include elections of delegates.

If the convention produces a constitution, it would be reviewed by Congress before being presented to the People of Puerto Rico in a plebiscite. Congress could make that binding.

Congress could also set a supermajority threshold. It is undesirable to squeeze something through on a slim majority.
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NewYorkExpress
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« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2020, 12:47:42 am »

Congress should set up a referendum with two options:

Statehood
Independence

However, they should only commit to honoring the results if over seventy percent of the voters vote for one of the two options.
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