DemDaily: US Territories: The Last Stop

June 7, 2024

The US territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands are holding their caucuses Saturday, the last two of the presidential primary season. Their vote, however, will be more symbolic than consequential as the territories have no votes in the Electoral College.

The are five "unincorporated organized" United States Territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Unknown to many Americans, the people of these islands are US Citizens who, like states, pay into social security, have their own "state" government and elections, follow federal laws, and can freely travel within the US.

Anyone born in the US territories is automatically granted US citizenship and the US government has the same responsibilities toward them as it does to other mainland US citizens.

However, despite contributing billions in taxes to the federal government, the territories do not have the same voting rights or representation as US citizens in the 50 states.

Under the colonial-style relationship, each territory sends a Delegate to the US House who possesses all powers and obligations of a member of Congress, can debate legislation, and sit and vote on committees -- but does not have an actual vote in Congress. They also do not have any representation in the Senate.

Similarly, the District of Columbia has a Delegate in Congress, but no voting rights. As the nation's capital, DC is a federal district under the direct jurisdiction of the US Congress. DC does, however, have three electoral votes in a presidential election.

DC, as well as Puerto Rico, has long fought for Statehood. Although both have passed referendums before the voters, they have no legal bearing as the decision to grant statehood is solely in the hands of the US Congress.

With control of both chambers of Congress narrowly divided between the parties, Democrats have been unsuccessful in achieving statehood for DC -- which would all but ensure two new Democratic Senators.

In addition to the territories, the US Government provides federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

The Northern Mariana Islands and the US Virgin Islands are represented by a Democratic in Congress, while American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico elected a Republican to send to Washington.

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DemDaily: Countdown to the Convention! 5/13/24

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, New York Times, RockTheVote, WIki, Territory Sites, USGeology

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