How do new states become part of the U.S.?

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Author's Note: How do new states become part of the U.S.?

The Puerto Rican vote for statehood grabbed headlines, but the results of the ballot measure were far from clear. The referendum asked two separate questions: "Are you satisfied with the current territorial status?" to which 54 percent voted no. The second question asked, "Which status do you prefer?" When the votes were tallied, 61.5 percent chose statehood, while 33 percent chose "sovereign free associated state," which is the same as the current commonwealth status. But a full 466,337 people purposely left the second question blank in protest to the odd two-part construction of the referendum, which many considered rigged for statehood supporters. If those blank votes are counted, then statehood loses. The Obama administration had promised to act on a clear mandate from the Puerto Rican people, but this referendum is anything but.

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