WASHINGTON — When Puerto Ricans vote Sunday on the political future for the U.S. territory, Gov. Ricardo Rossello is confident most will choose statehood.

“It’s unfortunate U.S. citizens here don’t have the same power,” he said. “We need to take action.”

But in some ways, the timing couldn’t be worse. With a political divide on the island, a deepening economic crisis and – critically – a lack of congressional support to become the 51st American state, experts say the vote seems unlikely to result in any real change.

“Now is the worst time and the worst manner to deal with the issue,” said Federico de Jesus, a Puerto Rico native and the former deputy director of the Governor of Puerto Rico’s Washington, D.C., office, under former Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, a member of the Popular Democratic Party who opposes statehood. “All parties agree that the current system needs to be modified, but this is definitely the wrong course of action.”

This will be the island’s fifth referendum asking Puerto Ricans to choose statehood, independence or keep some version of the current status as a commonwealth. Opposition groups who don’t believe in statehood and felt unrepresented on the ballot – which originally included only statehood and independence/free association – are boycotting the vote, and experts say a statehood verdict doesn’t necessarily represent what the population wants.

Rossello said a statehood vote would be legitimate, adding that anyone who doesn’t vote in the upcoming plebiscite is “mostly driven by partisan politics.”

“The plebiscite has to be for a future solution to the status issue, which implied that the current status was not a solution,” he said. “This goes to the roots of what it means to be American, what it means to be part of a nation that shares the same democratic values, human rights, freedom … and all of those components are being severely hampered.”