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Voter Suppression / Being Puerto Rican

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

The election coming up on November 3rd, 2020 is the tipping point of where our future lies. Whomever wins this election, either Trump or Biden, dictates the path that the United States will take. I am saddened with the fact that Puerto Rico was not mentioned during October 22nd's presidential debate after everything that happened within Hurricane María in 2017 during Trump's administration. It is like Americans have forgotten that there are still people without roofs. That in Ponce, my home town, there were destructive earthquakes for months during 2020, but I am not really suprised either, and I am saddened with the fact that I have never voted and will not be able to vote in this election. Not because I don’t want to, but because my identity - who I am - does not allow me to. Because I am a Puerto Rican womxn and have official residency in the island, I am not able to vote in these elections. Here is a little backstory to why people like me can’t vote...

Since 1898, Puerto Rico became a colony of the United States and it’s people attained U.S. citizenship. Even with Puerto Ricans attaining U.S. citizenship, they were still not able to vote for the president of the United States. Additionally, Americans that reside in Puerto Rico can’t vote either. The only way in which the people of Puerto Rico can vote for the president is with the attainment of an official U.S. residency. The reason why the people of Puerto Rico can’t vote in the final election is because of the electoral college system and it’s provisions. Hence, the electoral college system and it’s provisions are a form of social control within itself. It is a tool to suppress voters and socially control 3.5 million "Americans." (I put it in quotes because I do not personally resonate with the identity of being American or that Puerto Ricans are Americans).

Mathew Collette argues, “The Commonwealth [of Puerto Rico] is not a state. The citizens of Puerto Rico do not have the constitutional right to vote for the president and vice president of the United States” (Dickman 2017). How is it that the people of Puerto Rico that are subject to U.S. law, have U.S. citizenship, serve in the U.S. military and pay U.S. income taxes do not have the constitutional right to vote for the president of the United States? Kate Rubins, a NASA astronaut, was able to cast her vote from a station in space, but American people and people who hold U.S. citizenship can’t vote from Puerto Rico? (Terricciato 2017). I personally would like Puerto Rico to be an independent country, but until then I would like the people of Puerto Rico to be able to vote for the president that partially governs them.

After hurricane María, Trump openly blamed the people of Puerto Rico for a natural disaster (???) and invalidated the pain, suffering and deaths that were occurring. Trump - A gaslighter. Due to the United States’ late response in sending aid and help, 3,000 people died (Florido 2019). After Hurricane María, studies have shown that Puerto Ricans are likely to vote democrat if they had the opportunity (Ramírez de Arellano 2020). So I ask, how would this presidential election look if the people of Puerto Rico could vote? I can speculate that if Puerto Ricans could vote, they would create a higher popular vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and conservatives fear that. Here we are. 2020. Another election using the electoral college system. The electoral college system, a tool to perpetuate voter suppression. A tool for social control that continues the long chain of oppression. This does not only deem true for Puerto Rican people, but also individuals who have felonies and non-citizens that are permanent legal residents. We are not having it! When the United States denies the vote of individuals who live and die for/in this country, who aport to the American society and the economy, they deprive people from their rights. When we ignore the popular vote - the vote of the majority people - we ignore what democracy actually stands for.


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