SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico’s governor approved a two-part referendum on Wednesday to help decide its political status, but supporters of maintaining the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth criticized the decision to hold both votes on the same day.
The first part of the referendum will ask voters if they want a change in status or prefer to remain a U.S. commonwealth. The second part will ask that voters choose from three options: statehood, independence or sovereign free association.
The original proposal was to hold the first part of the referendum in August 2012 and then, only if the majority sought a change in status, hold the second part during the November 2012 general elections.
But under the new proposal, the two-part referendum will be held on Nov. 6, said Gov. Luis Fortuno, who leads the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.
Regardless of what voters decide, any change requires approval by the U.S. Congress and president.
Sen. Eduardo Bhatia said holding both parts on the same day makes no sense because it assumes that the pro-status quo option doesn’t win and the second round will be necessary.