Talk:2012 Puerto Rican status referendum

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Puerto Rico’s Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions - Congressional Research Service CRS Report[edit]

Congressional Research Service Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report

Puerto Rico’s Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions

Governor of Puerto Rico Letter to the President - Official Results of the Puerto Rico Political Status Plebiscite Congressman Pierluisi on the Congress Inform the Congress[edit]

Governor of Puerto Rico Letter to the President - Official Results of the 2012 Puerto Rico Political Status Plebiscite

Congressman Pierluisi on the Congress oficially informing the results of the 2012 Plebiscite


Some editors have changed the results to show the blank ballots counted within the percentage for the second option. This is not how referendum results should be presented - percentages should only be calculated based on the valid votes - this is how reliable psephologist sources present such information.

The official results from CEEPUR use this correct format - see their website. This is repeated by reliable sources such as the Direct Democracy, the best source around for referendums. The Congressional Research Service specifically states that "The certified results list 498,604 “blank votes,” but do not include them when calculating percentages listed in the final results."). Number 57 10:28, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

  • PS, I noticed the reference to Crimean status referendum, 2014 in the edit summary. This article is also wrong, but I note that it is the target of some serious nationalist edit wars, so I was going to wait until the fuss had died down to correct it. Number 57 10:37, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Please provide us a policy that states that, "This is not how referendum results should be presented - percentages should only be calculated based on the valid votes." Anyone can swing a referendum to favor a desired outcome by fooling outsiders. 25% of voters left the ballot in blank in protest. There was no "none of the above" option; this shows you how the outcome was premeditated. It was not a mere 1% that left the ballots blank. Twenty six motherfucking percent did. That's extraordinary. CEEPUR must follow the local law but in Wikipedia we adhere to WP:NPOV and it's obvious that if we follow the letter of the law in this case rather than the interpretation of the law, we would be pushing a biased agenda favoring statehood.
Let me give you an example: if I were to ask people, "Do you want to die?" Most people would answer, "No." But if in a second question I asked, "If you were to live forever how you would prefer to live: sick for the rest of your life, dismembered, deaf, or blind in one eye?" Most people would choose, "blind in one eye" but is this really a fair question? Where is the option for, "jesus I don't want to live forever in any of those conditions!" Since there's no such option on the ballot some people would leave the ballot blank in protest for the lack of "none of the above".
Here are several sources that explain this phenomena:

New York Daily News:

And the results were: 809,000 votes for statehood, only 73,000 for independence, and 441,000 for sovereign free association.

So a majority wants Puerto Rico to be the 51st state, right?

Not exactly. More than 470,000 people cast blank ballots in protest of the second part of the referendum, following a recommendation from the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party.

So statehood did not actually receive 61% of the vote — until you ignore the nearly half a million people who cast blank ballots. If you factor in that protest vote, statehood garnered 45%, a result that’s virtually unchanged from previous referendums in 1993 and 1998.

Associated Press:

But Tuesday's vote comes with an asterisk and an imposing political reality: The island remains bitterly divided over its relationship to the United States and many question the validity of this week's referendum.

Nearly a half million voters chose to leave a portion of the ballot blank.

University of Edinburgh:

Among the choices offered by the second question, federalism received 61%, sovereign ELA 33.3%, and independence 5.5%, but there were 480,918 blank votes, so if those votes were to be counted, federalism received only 46% of the vote.


Voters were asked two questions: the first asked if people favored the current status as a commonwealth or not, and the second listed the alternatives. The status options included becoming a state, and total independence. The White House, however, said the vote was unclear because 466,000 people did not specify a preference on an alternative status, primarily because the current commonwealth option was left out.


White House spokesperson Jay Carney was asked today whether President Barack Obama intends to support a push for Puerto Rican statehood following plebiscite results in the island. Carney explained that the administration did not feel the plebiscite’s results were clear.

“This administration, as you know, is committed to the principle that the question of political status is a matter of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico,” said Carney. He explained the results show Puerto Ricans do want a resolution to the status issue — about 54 percent of Puerto Ricans voted for a status change — but “I think the outcome was a little less clear than that because of the process itself,” Carney said.

As we must adhere to NPOV, we must present the facts "as is" and leave them to interpretation to our own readers. We just say: "hey statehood got these many numbers, independence these many, and blank or invalid got these many." That's it. Saying that statehood got 61% is equivocal and pushes an agenda. Laws are laws. When laws are unfair people protest against them. That's what they did. The party in power found a flaw and ran a referendum to favor their agenda. Puerto Ricans didn't have any tool against it except leaving the ballot blank intentionally to show the whole world that a significant minority of Puerto Ricans didn't consider the ballot fair.
A vote is a deliberate act towards a desired outcome. 25% of voters deliberately wanted to show to the world that they didn't agree with the options given on the second question. They casted a vote by leaving the ballot blank intentionally.
We have provided reliable sources to back up this argument. —Ahnoneemoos (talk) 14:42, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
In response to your first query about how referendum results are presented, I provided the Direct Democracy link, but if you want other reliable or academic sources, try the IFES or one of the Nohlen books. You'll see that the total of the options given always adds up to 100%. Blank or invalid ballots do not count towards the percentages.
But anyway, I agree that we must present the facts as is, and as I demonstrated CEEPUR give the results using the standard method of calculation. Blank votes are not being excluded, as they are still included in the results table, and should definitely be referred to in the text along the lines you state above. However, they do not contribute to the %s given to the different options - this is not an NPOV issue, it is standard psephology. Cheers, Number 57 15:26, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
PS - please could you keep your response down to a readable level, as the wall of text above is WP:TLDR. Less than half a screen would be helpful. Thanks, Number 57 15:26, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I would appreciate if someone were to summarize what exactly is the complaint here. I am unfortunately having a hard time understanding what is being proposed here. Feedback 17:05, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Please get accustomed with WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT. You are completely missing the point. You have failed to provide a reliable source that states that "statehood got 61% of the vote". Period. You have been provided several reliable sources that clearly state that the results are unclear and that one cannot and should not simply state that "statehood got the majority".
Here, from your beloved Democracy Now: [1]:

But then, there was a second stage, which said, "Which status would you prefer?" And there were—in essence, the choices were statehood, which has always been a choice on these referenssdums, a new definition called free—a "sovereign free associated state," and not the commonwealth that now exists, but some nebulous new entity called "sovereign free associated state," or independence. So there were three choices. And you had about 800,000 people voted for statehood, and 437,000 voted for this free associated sovereign state, but another 468,000 cast blank ballots, and then you had 72,000 voted for independence. So when the reports are telling you that statehood won, statehood won a majority of those who cast a choice, but there was a huge number who voted no, because the Commonwealth Party, the existing Commonwealth Party in Puerto Rico, opposed the way that the pro-statehood governor had prepared the referendum, and so it urged its members to cast blank ballots. So there were actually four choices that were made there. There was those who went for statehood, those who went for the new free associated republic—or, I’m sorry, free associated state with sovereignty, those who went for the old commonwealth, and those who went for independence. So, the independence people—I mean, the statehood people say, for the first time, statehood has gotten a majority in any of these referendums, but the—those on the other side say, no, when you add up free associated states, the blank ballots and [inaudible], they overwhelmingly defeated statehood.

I would appreciate if you form an argument based on something else besides, "but this is standard psephology". Well guess what? This referendum was not standard. It didn't have an against all option. It deviated from the standard, hence its results deviated from the standard as well. See also Singaporean national referendum, 1962. Same thing happened there. —Ahnoneemoos (talk) 17:16, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

───────────────────────── In response to @Feedback: in basic terms, referendum results are ordinarily shown as in the first table below, which CEEPUR and Direct Democracy do. However Ahnoneemoos wants to present them as in table 2 so that it highlights the number of blank votes. As well as being incorrect by normal standards, I believe it is also an NPOV violation, as it is deliberately showing results in an unusual format to highlight something he wants to. Number 57 17:22, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Choice Votes %
State 834,191 61.16
Free association 454,768 33.34
Independence 74,895 5.49
Total valid votes 1,363,854 100
Valid votes 1,363,854 72.59
Blank votes 498,604 26.54
Invalid votes 17,157 0.91
Total votes cast 1,878,969 100
Registered voters/turnout 2,402,941 78.19
Choice Votes %
State 834,191 44.40
Free association 454,768 24.20
Independence 74,895 3.99
Blank votes 498,604 26.54
Invalid votes 17,157 0.91
Total votes cast 1,878,969 100
Registered voters/turnout 2,402,941 78.19

In response to @Ahnoneemoos: bizarre claim that I "have failed to provide a reliable source that states that "statehood got 61% of the vote"", I already have provided the links to CEEPUR's official results and Direct Democracy, which both show statehood getting 61% of the vote. I also have never made any reference to Democracy Now, so I have no idea why you are describing them as "your beloved". Perhaps you are thinking of a dispute you are having with someone else elsewhere? Number 57 17:22, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

But thank you for pointing out the incorrect results on the Singaporean article - I have presented them as given in the quoted source on that page. You may also want to read up on WP:CANVASS given your non-neutral request here. Cheers, Number 57 17:29, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
For the record, both of you are writing way too many consecutive paragraphs that makes your discussion hard to follow. You realize that you both just wrote massive discussion the size of an RFA to discuss changing a number, right? In any case, I finally understand the issue as it seems to solely be about the table. Here's what I gather. Ahnoneemoos believes that because the referendum was biased in design, that the results should reflect the people's rejection of said referendum. I cannot help but disagree. The results of the referendum must be reported as they were. While I understand that those who did not agree with the referendum's design had no choice but to not vote, you just can't count them. If the referendum had asked "Apples or Oranges", you can't count the grape votes for either. By dividing the yes, between the totals of all votes and non-votes, you are tainting the results. This isn't just pesphology, it's basic mathematics. However, I think a compromise is in order. The fact that these votes were left blank and can have other interpretations is notable for inclusion in the article. The "Criticism" section is very small right now, and I think it could be expanded to include the interpretation of the results that Ahnoneemoos has reliably sourced. Feedback 17:43, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that's basically what I suggested in an earlier response - the results should be presented as standard, and the unusually high number of blank ballots discussed in the text of the article. Number 57 17:48, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I think another table would be beneficial to the readers' understanding of the criticism section. What we should do is include "Ballot" + "Results" + "Criticism" sections, in that order. After explaining the design of the ballot and the results, we can show the criticism section showing an alternate table, or perhaps even a comparison chart as was shown in many newspapers in Puerto Rico. Feedback 17:54, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Please provide us with reliable sources that state that "statehood got 61% of the results". I have provided several reliable sources that state unequivocally that the results are unclear. We cannot take any sides here. We must abide to NPOV and show the results "as is": x number for statehood, x number for the others, and x number for blank ballots. Period. —Ahnoneemoos (talk) 18:13, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  • This is not what we are discussing. We are discussing your revert on the infobox. The infobox we had was neutral and does not take any sides. It simply states: "this is what happened" without asserting anything. Your revert is biased as it asserts visually that statehood got a majority of the votes, when it clearly did not. You cannot show statehood getting 61% of the votes in a graph when that's not what happened. That would give a majority to statehood. Take into account the blank votes and you will see that statehood did not get a majority greater than 50%. I would also like you to re-read what I posted on WP:PUR and notice that I very clearly said, "Please provide your input, whatever it may be". How dare you accuse me of posting a non-neutral request? —Ahnoneemoos (talk) 18:13, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
This really isn't about perception. The polls were designed in a way that excluded a popular opinion. That is unfortunate, but there's no point in editing the results. The official results that he posted are the official results. To abstain from a vote, is to abstain from calculation. If a group of 10 people, 3 vote yes, 3 vote no, and 4 abstain, that's not 30% approval, that's 50%. This is basic, and while I agree with your assertion that the poll is biased, we have to represent the result of the question. The government already issued their official results which Number 57 sourced above. Any other alternate interpretation is just that, an alternate interpretation, and should be included in another section. The infobox you are choosing to keep in the article was not the poll's intended interpretation, and is in fact, mathematically incorrect. You do not include the number of blank ballots in vote totals. That is just unethical. The number of blank ballots are notable so the reader can make their judgment on the validity of the poll's results. But the actual results should not be tampered with. Feedback 18:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  • That's not how voting works. Please familiarize yourself with the term "blank vote" and "protest vote". You always include invalid or blank votes in the final results to give a clear and unaltered picture of what really happened. Want me to give you a real life example? Here's how the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico shows the tally for Act No. 66: "Aprobado por Cámara en Votación Final, 26-19-02-04" [2] [3] That means: 26 in favor, 19 against, 2 abstain, 4 absent. But you want to remove the abstains on this article. Sorry, it simply doesn't work that way and we have provided 5 reliable sources to backup this claim but you have chosen to ignore them. —Ahnoneemoos (talk) 23:04, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
P.S. You accusation that I edited your post is unfounded, and I deserve an immediate apology. I did not touch your words or removed any data you added to the page. On the contrary, you removed a perfectly good collapsable box that *I* added to preserve the flow of conversation. You're the one who touched my entries into this talk page. Next time you want to revert *my contribution*, you should ask. Feedback 18:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Ahnoneemoos, I've already provided two reliable sources, including the official results from the electoral commission. Feedback has quite clearly seen them, so I don't know you keep demanding that they be provided. You talked earlier in the discussion about WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT; I think this is one of the worst cases of that I've come across. Number 57 19:24, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

  • I have provided 5 reliable sources that state unequivocally that the results are unclear. You provided CEEPUR, one link to a personal website (not Democracy Now as you claim), and one link to a Congressional Report. Your argument is based on CEEPUR but I and other reliable sources have debunked your argument very easily by explaining to you that CEEPUR simply follows the letter of the law. You are ignoring the Associated Press, NBC, the New York Daily News, the University of Edinburgh, and even the own White House which state that the results published by CEEPUR are unclear. Why are you ignoring what five different and independent reliable sources are saying? So, let me ask you: how many times does a reliable source have to be posted for you to see them? Here they are again for your convenience: [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]Ahnoneemoos (talk)
Yes, there is a grand amount of rightful criticism on the meaning of these numbers. But the numbers are the same. 61% of people who voted on this question, voted for the first option. You cannot count people who did not vote into the tallies. The question is bogus and it completely isolated a grand part of the population who refused to answer it. But the number doesn't change. Using the example you stated above, if out of 100 people, 15 chose a Blind Eye, 3 chose sick, 1 chose deaf and 1 dismembered, That means 75% chose the blind eye. The 80 people who refused to answer are irrelevant to the calculations. The question sucks and is not representative of what the population wants, but you can't change the statistics. All your sources call to question the validity of the results of this referendum. But the results continue to be the same. What they provide is an alternate interpretation, one that is purely theoretical, since you can't know exactly what a non-voter's intentions were. (i.e. didn't understand the question, thought he only needed to answer one of the questions, he liked all three options, etc.) Feedback 00:36, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
  • The issue is that that argument is flawed. That's not how voting works. You always state the votes that were invalid and those that were left blank. Furthermore, our interpretation on the matter is irrelevant as the reliable sources state the following:

So a majority wants Puerto Rico to be the 51st state, right?

Not exactly.

So statehood did not actually receive 61% of the vote [...]

The White House, however, said the vote was unclear.

CEEPUR is a government agency ruled by laws. It must present data as the law states. It is what we call a WP:PRIMARY source which is fine BUT other reliable sources debunk that result. In cases like this we go with what the secondary reliable sources say.
Ahnoneemoos (talk) 02:07, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
You are determined to misunderstand. As bitey as Number 57 sounds by shouting WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT, it's very clear. What's worse is that you are not posting any misinformation. You are just misunderstanding your sources. I'll tackle all 3 of them in order:
So a majority wants Puerto Rico to be the 51st state, right? Not exactly- "Majority" in this sentence means something completely different than what you think it means. The person is saying that the majority of Puerto Ricans do not exactly want statehood, because a lot of people left it blank. Of the people who voted, 61% continues to be the valid number. And THAT is what the results measure, nothing more and nothing less. The controversy is whether or not that sample is representative of the island when 400,000 people decided to leave it in blank.
So statehood did not actually receive 61% of the vote...- This statement is false on its own without providing proper context... He says "until you ignore the nearly half a million people who cast blank ballots". The sentence is true, but it's badly worded. Since you don't have to include blank totals in the calculations, you don't ignore anything. People decided to abstain. They chose to have their voices ignored. Again, if the question were Apples vs. Oranges, the people who like neither won't vote. They have no say in the final tally. It would be silly to do it otherwise.
The White House, however, said the vote was unclear.- This is a true statement. You, I, the White House and many reliable sources consider the results of this poll to be inconclusive due to it not being a representation of all of Puerto Ricans. 61% of the people who voted preferred statehood than the rest of the things listed. The problem is that "the people who voted" is arguably not representative of Puerto Ricans as a whole. But these numbers don't count the opinions of Puerto Ricans as a whole, they count the people who participated in the referendum. Considering that the majority of Puerto Ricans didn't even go out to vote, the results would easily be changed no matter the result. Feedback 05:30, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Other reliable sources do not "debunk" the result; they merely point out the number of blank votes was rather high, and both Feedback and I have clearly said that this should be covered in the article text. However, the results themselves in terms of the percentages are not able to be debunked; they simply are as they are.
Also, I really don't understand your repeated references to Democracy Now. I have never made any reference to Democracy Now except to ask why you are claiming that I have done so. It is very difficult to have a reasoned debate when one of the parties involved is making things up. Number 57 08:33, 22 August 2014 (UTC)