Thomas Rivera Schatz proposes to make a status consultation on election day

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The president of the Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, settled today, Tuesday, a project that makes possible a consultation “statehood yes or no”.

Senate Bill 1467, known as the Law for the Final Solution of the Political Status of Puerto Rico, establishes the rules for holding a referendum in the general elections of November 3, in which the elector would be asked: “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately within the Union as a state?”

The only alternatives would be “yes or no”.

According to Rivera Schatz, this was the question that the residents of Alaska and Hawaii answered before they became states.

The “yes” means that the voter claims the federal government to immediately recognize the equality of duties and rights of American citizens with the status “in permanent union with all states of the Union.” The “no” means the rejection of the permanent union with statehood and a claim to the federal government to “immediately recognize the sovereignty of Puerto Rico separated from the United States of America with a treaty of independence in free association or with total independence.”

If the “no” is imposed, the project provides that a transition process must begin immediately for the recognition of the sovereignty of Puerto Rico.

If the “yes” is won, after no more than 15 days after the result is certified, the governor will designate a transition commission consisting of seven members: two government officials, the resident commissioner and four members of the principal representative that the State Election Commission (EEC) certified to represent the winning status alternative.

This group would have the task of preparing a transition plan that would be delivered to the governor no more than 30 days after the agency was constituted. That plan would be presented to the leaders of Congress and to the president of the United States “with the purpose of establishing the transition processes with the urgency demanded by the citizens of Puerto Rico.”

If the “no” is won, after no more than 15 days of certified results, the governor would appoint a transition commission made up of seven people. This group would also have the task of preparing a transition plan for the governor, which must approve it and send it to the leaders of the Congress of both main parties.

In an apparent attempt to combat any call to abstention, Senate Bill 1467 states that “The absence of voters in the voting or their voting in an invalid or blank manner will never be used to suppress the intention of the voters who exercised their right democratically, voluntarily and validly.”

In a referendum, held on June 11, 2017, statehood received 97% of the total votes or 502,616 votes. Free association or independence received 7,779 votes (1.5%) and the current territorial status charged with 6,821 votes (1.32%) in a referendum for which the opposition parties called for the boycott in rejection of the alternatives included in the ballot.

However, the participation rate was 23%.

With the measure, Governor Wanda Vázquez and resident commissioner Jenniffer González are ordered to be the official representatives of Puerto Rico before the United States Secretary of Justice and other federal authorities “regarding all matters related to this law”, and will follow up on the procedures ordered to the president of the EEC.

Specifically, this official is ordered to deliver to the federal secretary of Justice, no later than 30 days after the bill, the draft ballot paper, copies of the Electoral Code and the Campaign Financing Control Act are converted into law. Policies, a draft regulation of the plebiscite and a proposal for the mass education campaign for voters, the cost of which will not exceed $ 2 million and that will come out of the $ 2.5 million allocation authorized in 2014.

Of that $ 2.5 million, a total of $ 500,000 will be used for expenses of the event.

To conduct the consultation, an additional $ 1 million would be required, which would be allocated by the Legislative Assembly. The project establishes that the state resources required to comply with the law “are totally excluded” from the scope of the Promise law.

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