Though they've been American citizens since 1917, residents of the island of Puerto Rico aren't currently allowed to vote in American elections.

Still, boricuas lined up en masse yesterday to vote on an important referendum that may finally set them on the road to permanent statehood.

The two-part referendum first asked residents if they were happy with the status quo — limited self-governance coupled with limited representation in Congress.

Irrespective of their response, Puerto Ricans were then asked how they would like the status quo to change: Toward statehood, toward independence, or toward additional autonomy that maintains the country's special relationship with the US.

With some 31% of the votes tallied, it seems locals are not only interested in switching up the status quo (53% vs. 47%), but they were also clearly in favor of seeking statehood (61% vs. 5.5% for independence).

Though the referendum is non-binding, President Obama has promised to respect the results in case of a "clear majority."

"Puerto Rico has to be a state. There is no other option," one voter told the Associated Press. "We're doing OK, but we could do better. We would receive more benefits, a lot more financial help."

Vote counting stopped for the night, but will continue today. Results will be updated here and here.

[H/T: BuzzFeed, photo via AP]