The residents of Puerto Rico have voted in favor of pursuing U.S. statehood in a non-binding referendum during yesterday's presidential election. CNN reported that this is the first time statehood has won approval from a majority of Puerto Rico voters, having been defeated in similar referenda three times, the last one in 1998.
Puerto Ricans voted against continued status as a U.S. Commonwealth by a 54-46 percent margin. In terms of alternatives, 61 percent backed statehood, 33 percent endorsed a semi-autonomous "sovereign free association," and only 6 percent wanted outright independence.
The shift in attitudes toward statehood was largely attributed to the island's declining economic fortunes and population loss. Puerto Ricans living on their home island are ineligible to vote for the U.S. presidency, but those who live in the 50 U.S. states can vote as citizens.
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