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Puerto Rico on Its Way to Becoming the 51st State?

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Looks like Puerto Rico just voted in favor of statehood. But don’t start trying to fit a 51st star onto the U.S. flag just yet—the next steps aren’t quite that clear cut.

The U.S. territory’s two-part, non-binding referendum vote on Tuesday showed a majority of Puerto Ricans supporting a change in national status, and a majority support for statehood.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, just under 54 percent of voters favored a change, according to the Associated Press. The second referendum question offered a choice between three possible status changes: statehood, which took 61 percent of the vote; Sovereign free association, with 33 percent; and just 5 percent support for independence.

Congress would have to approve a Puerto Rican bid for statehood, something that President Obama has said he’d respect in the event of a clear majority decision. But it’s still not clear if the White House will consider the majority votes from Tuesday enough to take up the issue.

To complicate matters, the pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno conceded defeat on Wednesday in a close race against Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who supports the island’s current national status, according to the AP.

Currently, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and use U.S. currency and passports. But they have limited representation in government, and can’t vote in presidential elections.

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