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- A proposal to split California into three states — Northern California, California, and Southern California — has qualified to appear on the ballot in November's general election.
- The measure received more than 400,000 valid signatures, thanks to support from the legendary Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper.
- The rationale is that California is the most populous state in the nation, so having three states would give the people of California three times the number of senators in Washington and allow legislatures to tackle issues closer to home.
Tim Draper is known for having crazy ideas — and for funding them.
Now, the legendary Silicon Valley investor is making headway on a longtime and perhaps unrealistic effort to split California into three states: Northern California, California, and Southern California.
Draper's proposal to cut up the Golden State qualified on Tuesday to appear on the ballot in November's general election. It received more than 402,468 valid signatures, more than the number required by state law, thanks to an ambitious campaign called Cal 3 and financial backing from Draper, an early investor in Tesla, Skype, and Hotmail.
If a majority of California voters who cast ballots agree to divide the state into three, the plan would need approval from both houses of the California Legislature. Then it would reach the US Congress.
The last time an existing state split up, it was the 1860s and a civil war broke out. West Virginia was formed by seceding from a Confederate state over differences in support for slavery.
Draper has reasons for wanting to slice and dice his home state.
With slightly more than 39 million people, California is the most populous US state. Supporters of the initiative argue that it isn't fairly represented with two senators in Washington. The proposal would give the people of California six senators.
According to the Cal 3 website, partitioning the state would also allow legislatures to make better and more sensible decisions for their communities.
"The California state government isn't too big to fail, because it is already failing its citizens in so many crucial ways," Peggy Grande, a representative for the Cal 3 campaign, said in a Tuesday statement. "The reality is that for an overmatched, overstretched, and overwrought state-government structure, it is too big to succeed. Californians deserve a better future."
However, the proposal is as radical as it is unlikely to pass.
Critics of the initiative say that having three Californias would diminish the power of Democrats. With its 55 electors in the Electoral College, California has long been a stronghold for the Democratic Party. Three smaller states could change that equation, which worries some Democrats.
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Under the proposal, each state would have about one-third of California's population:
- California: This would include six counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and San Benito.
- Southern California: This would have 12 counties: San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, Mono, Madera, Inyo, Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Kern, and Imperial.
- Northern California: This would make up 40 counties including those of the San Francisco Bay Area and those north of Sacramento, the state capital.
This is the third time Draper has tried to get voters to weigh in on breaking up the most populous US state. He backed proposals in 2012 and 2014 to create six California states, but both initiatives fell short of gathering enough valid signatures.
In 2016, an effort called Calexit sought to separate California from the US. The secession movement fell out of the spotlight after its former leader announced he was moving to Russia, though the group is still gathering signatures to qualify a measure for the 2018 ballot.
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