Puerto Ricans head to the polls to decide whether or not they want their economically struggling U.S. territory to become the 51st U.S. state. No reporter narration.
(ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Puerto Ricans headed to the polls on Sunday (June 11) to decide whether or not they want their economically struggling U.S. territory to become the 51st U.S. state, although a vote in favor would likely face an uphill battle in Congress. The island has $70 billion in debt, a 45-percent poverty rate, woefully underperforming schools, and near-insolvent pension and health systems. Puerto Rico's hazy political status, dating back to its 1898 acquisition by the United States from Spain, has contributed to the economic crisis that pushed it last month into the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Many Puerto Ricans who turned out to vote on Sunday morning were retirees hoping that eventual statehood would finally put the island on equal standing with the 50 U.S. states, giving them more access to federal funds and the right to vote for the U.S. President. Voting took place at deteriorating public schools in makeshift cardboard polling booths draped with brown plastic for privacy.