Referendum • Congress still would have to approve.
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San Juan, Puerto Rico • A slim majority of Puerto Ricans sought to change their ties with the United States and become the 51st U.S. state in a nonbinding referendum that would require final approval from Congress.
The two-part referendum asked whether the island wanted to change its 114-year relationship with the United States. Nearly 54 percent, or 922,374 people, sought to change it, while 46 percent, or 786,749 people, favored the status quo. Ninety-six percent of 1,643 precincts were reporting as of early Wednesday.
The second question asked voters to choose from three options, with statehood by far the favorite, garnering 61 percent. Sovereign free association, which would have allowed for more autonomy, received 33 percent, while independence got 5 percent.
President Barack Obama earlier expressed support for the referendum and pledged to respect the will of the people in the event of a clear majority.
It is unclear whether the U.S. Congress will debate the referendum results.