The statehood movement has attempted to justify their referendum, extensively citing numerous congresspersons’ calls to action for Puerto Rican voters to participate. Representatives of the likes of Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Don Young (R-Alaska), and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) have each publicly supported the process.
Only about a quarter of voters participated in Rosselló’s referendum. Turnout rates for previous votes on the matter in 2012, 1998, 1993 and 1967 boasted participation rates of 78 percent, 71 percent, 74 percent, and 60 percent, respectively.
This vote was supposed to be different, as President Barack Obama allocated $2.5 million back in 2013 for carrying out a federally-sanctioned status referendum. The allocation, in turn, required that the ballot options be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The PNP’s desperation does not end there. When the Puerto Rican Independence Party decided to boycott the referendum, the only pro-independence activist who was willing to act as a spokesperson for the ballot option happened to be on the Rosselló administration’s payroll. Similarly, statehood supporters began plastering city streets and building walls with posters featuring the colors of opposition parties, inviting their followers to vote. The PNP, in effect, propped up ballot options other than their own to grant legitimacy to their ailing referendum process.