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There is some evidence, despite Mr. Strauss’s concerns, that the results of the Puerto Rico referendum could be recognized by the federal government. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum backed the referendum last month while campaigning in Florida, with Mr. Romney saying he expects the outcome to be a vote for statehood.

President Obama has also pledged to honor the results of the referendum, though he cautioned last year that if no option wins decisively, Congress may not act on it.

Statehood will appear on Puerto Rico’s ballot alongside full independence and free association in the two-part question, which will also ask voters whether they want to change Puerto Rico’s political status at all.