In 2014, the U.S. government approved funding for a new status vote in Puerto Rico — if the U.S. Department of Justice agreed that the options on the ballot were constitutional.
A proposal was made for an up or down vote on statehood for Puerto Rico, a vote like the ones Hawaii and Alaska held in the 1950s. Then a ballot was developed that offered a choice between the two non-territorial options consistent with the U.S. constitution: statehood and independence. Independence could include a compact of free association or not.
The Department of Justice rejected that ballot for two primary reasons: first, they indicated that continuing as a territory is a viable option under the constitution; and second, they thought the description of free association might sound like “enhanced commonwealth.” The Status Options
For many years, Puerto Rico has had three status options: