Sunday, July 3, 2011


Some so called intellectuals come up with the lamest excuses to justify the violation of the US citizens from Puerto Rico constitutional right to vote for its leaders.

The upholding of the sacred principles of democracy as stated in our constitution, goes beyond how many seats will one state have or what language will be spoken.
That is what America is all about! That's why we have our soldiers fighting in foreign lands! If I had to debate someone on this issue, I'd have him for lunch. MJ
(I posted this in "comments" in the Houston Chronicle)


An addition would lead to subtraction



July 2, 2011, 3:42PM

President Barack Obama visited Puerto Rico last month, the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited the island since John F. Kennedy was there in 1961. A friendly crowd welcomed Obama at the airport in San Juan, and he was soon discussing the decades-old question about the status of Puerto Rico. Should the island become the 51st state of the U.S., become independent of the U.S., or remain a commonwealth? Around half of the island's voters favor statehood, almost half want the commonwealth status to continue, and very few desire independence.
Puerto Rico has been part of the U.S. since 1898 and its people have been citizens of the U.S. since 1917. Residents of Puerto Rico may vote in United States presidential primaries, and they send delegates to the national conventions of the Democratic and Republican parties. But they do not vote in presidential elections, and they do not have official representation in the U.S. House of Representatives or in the Senate. If Puerto Rico became the 51st state, then, of course, its people would be allowed to vote in presidential elections and they would have formal representation in the Senate and House.
A White House task force recently recommended that Puerto Rico conduct a plebiscite in the next year and a half to decide whether to remain as a commonwealth or to become a part of the U.S. On his visit there, President Obama promised he would support what the Puerto Ricans desire. Statehood has its benefits, both for Puerto Rico and, to a certain degree, for Obama and the Democrats. Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections, particularly in New York where the bulk of the 4.6 million mainland Puerto Ricans live. But there are more than 800,000 Puerto Ricans living in Florida, and the Puerto Rican voters there went for Bush in 2004 and for Obama in 2008.
It is time to ask if Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state of the United States, how many seats in the U.S. House will Puerto Rico receive, and, more importantly, which U.S. states will lose seats to Puerto Rico. Since it is unlikely that the House will increase its number of seats beyond 435, seat assignment is a zero-sum game. If a new state is added, there will not be an increase in the number of House seats. One exception to this rule occurred with the admission of Alaska and Hawaii in the late 1950s. For one session of Congress there were 438 seats (one for Alaska and two for Hawaii). However, with the results from the next census in 1960, the House reverted back to its basic number of 435 seats. I doubt that this will occur again, that is, that Congress will allow a temporary increase of more seats for Puerto Rico prior to the 2020 census, and then revert back to 435 seats after the new (2020) census data are issued.
I have used 2010 census data to answer the above questions. The U.S. Census Bureau has already determined the distribution of House seats based on data from the 2010 census. I have taken this listing of the 385 seats for the 50 states (remember that every state automatically gets assigned a seat before the census data come into play) and have recalculated the apportionment distribution and the so-called 2010 priority values for Puerto Rico. I first added Puerto Rico to the 50 states and gave each of the now 51 states its automatic first seat. I then allocated the remaining 384 seats (that is, seat 52 through seat 435) using the Equal Proportions method, the approach that is used to allocate House seats on the basis of the population size of each state. Puerto Rico would receive an additional four seats, beyond its automatic first seat, for a total of five. Specifically, after receiving its first seat, it will then receive the 128th seat, the 209th seat, the 294th seat and the 378th seat. And according to my application of the Equal Proportions method to the 2010 population data from the Census Bureau, the five states that would lose representatives if Puerto Rico is added as the 51st state are Florida, Washington, Texas, California and Minnesota. Without Puerto Rico as a new state, the 2010 census data show that Texas gains four new seats, Florida two, Washington one, and California and Minnesota none. If Puerto Rico is added as a new state, Texas will only gain three new seats, Florida one, Washington none and California and Minnesota will each lose a seat.
The Congress has the final authority regarding the admission of a new state. Most assume that if Puerto Rico submits a petition for statehood, the House and Senate would pass a resolution authorizing statehood. But I really wonder if the passing of a resolution will be that easy. It will be interesting to see if the senators and representatives from the five states that will lose seats, especially the Republican-voting Texas, and the swing-state of Florida, would favor such a resolution. Seat assignment in the U.S. House is a zero-sum situation. If Puerto Rico (or, for that matter, Washington, D.C.,) becomes a state, some of the 50 states must necessarily lose seats. The next few years could well be interesting ones with respect to the kinds of political and demographic issues raised here.
Poston is a demographer and a professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University in College Station.
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