Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Does Puerto Rico vote in the presidential election?

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The US election 2020 takes place today, on Tuesday, November 3 and will see eligible American voters elect their next president. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the US, located approximately 1,000 miles of the coast of Miami, Florida.

Does Puerto Rico vote in the US election?

Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the US since 1917.

That means they can move freely between the island of Puerto Rico and the US mainland.

However, people from Puerto Rico cannot vote in a US election.

As the island is not a US state, it does not have a vote in the US Congress.

In Articles One and Two of the US Constitution, it state that electors are to be chosen by “the People of the several States.”

The US Congress has governed the territory with full jurisdiction since 1950, under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act.

As residents of a US territory, American citizens in Puerto Rico are disenfranchised at the national level.

They do not vote for the president or vice president of the US and in most cases do not pay federal income tax.

In the US House of Representatives, Puerto Rico is entitled to a resident commissioner.

This delegate is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House, but can vote on procedural matters and in House committees.

Puerto Rico’s future political status has consistently been a matter of significant debate.

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Puerto Rico is a territory under the sovereignty of the federal government, but is not part of any state nor is it a state itself.

In 2003, attorney Gregorio Igartúa and others in a third round of litigation filed suit seeking to enfranchise US citizens residents of Puerto Rico with the right to vote for the US president.

The US Court of Appeals decision in 2005, on appeal of the decision in Igartúa III, Igartua-de la Rosa v. United States, 417 F.3d 145 (1st Cir. P.R. 2005), reads in part:

“This case brings before this court the third in a series of law suits by Gregorio Igartúa, a US citizen resident in Puerto Rico, claiming the constitutional right to vote quadrennially for President and Vice President of the United States.

“Panels of this court have rejected such claims on all three occasions.

“We now do so again, this time en banc, rejecting as well an adjacent claim: that the failure of the Constitution to grant this vote should be declared a violation of US treaty obligations.

“The constitutional claim is readily answered. Voting for President and Vice President of the United States is governed neither by rhetoric nor intuitive values but by a provision of the Constitution.

“This provision does not confer the franchise on ‘US citizens’ but on ‘Electors’ who are to be ‘appoint[ed]’ by each ‘State,’ in ‘such Manner’ as the state legislature may direct, equal to the number of Senators and Representatives to whom the state is entitled.”

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