A Measure To Split California Into Three States Will Be on November Ballot

California voters will get to decide in November if the Golden State should be divided into three separate states, election officials announced on Tuesday.

Tim Draper, a Bay area venture capitalist, funded the effort and, according to the California Secretary of State’s office, submitted more than 402,468 valid signatures, surpassing the amount required by state law to get the initiative on the ballot. The office did not specify exactly how many signatures were turned in, but proponents of the Cal 3 initiative said the petition drew more than 600,000 signatures from across the Golden State’s 58 counties, ABC News reports.

“This is an unprecedented show of support on behalf of every corner of California to create three state governments that emphasize representation, responsiveness, reliability and regional identity,” Draper said.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will certify that the initiative qualifies for the November ballot on June 28, CNN reports.

The Cal 3 initiative proposes to divide California into three separate states, with each state containing approximately 12.3 million to 13.9 million people. The “new” California would be comprised of six counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Benito counties. Southern California would include 12 counties: San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, Mono, Madera, Inyo, Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Kern and Imperial counties. Northern California would be comprised of 40 counties, including the San Francisco Bay Area and the remaining counties north of Sacramento.

The Cal 3 website says splitting California into three separate states would allow for a “new, more responsive government that more directly reflects and respects the needs of citizens,” addressing the state’s most pressing issues, including the school systems, deteriorating infrastructure and high taxes.  

“It will simply divide the state into smaller, more manageable populations. Think of North Carolina and South Carolina; North Dakota and South Dakota; West Virginia and Virginia — California is already known for its Northern and Southern identities,” according to the Cal 3 website.

“The California state government isn't too big to fail, because it is already failing its citizens in so many crucial ways,” Citizens for Cal 3 campaign spokeswoman Peggy Grande said in a statement Tuesday. “The reality is that for an overmatched, overstretched and overwrought state-government structure, it is too big to succeed. Californians deserve a better future.” Her Campus reached out to Cal 3 regarding their initiative successfully making it to the November ballot, and how Cal 3 will work to solve the state’s current political issues. 

Meanwhile, the opposition is already underway.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, NoCABreakup, led by former Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabien Núñez, is preparing to battle to stop the split-state plan.

Her Campus reached out to NoCABreakup for their reaction to Cal 3’s qualification for the ballot, as well as how this initiative would impact taxpayers and the risks of dividing the state. The opposition group referred us to their earlier official statement by spokesperson Steven Maviglio.

"This measure would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to pay for the massive transactional costs of breaking up the state, whether it be universities, parks, or retirement systems,” Maviglio wrote in his statement. “Splitting California into three new states will triple the amount of special interests, lobbyists, politicians and bureaucracy. California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality.”

But getting the initiative on the ballot is only the first step in a long process to officially break up the Golden State. Even if the Cal 3 initiative passes the November ballot, it would still need congressional approval.

Cal 3’s website brushes aside those concerns, writing, “Once voters say YES to Cal 3, the state legislature — if they reflect the will of the people — will recommend the Cal 3 plan to the U.S. Congress, which will decide whether or not to support the self-determination of Californians.”

Splitting up California could also cause a major hassle in regards to dividing up public facilities, including water projects, prisons, universities and parks.

“The effects that California’s split would have on the new state governments would depend on decisions by the existing state’s Legislature in splitting up California’s assets and liabilities, as well as decisions by the new states’ leaders,” California’s legislative analyst, Mac Taylor, said in a report on the financial and legal effects of Cal 3.

This isn’t the first time that Draper has tried to get an initiative to separate California into multiple states, according to CNN. In 2014, Draper spent $5.2 million to qualify a state constitutional amendment to separate California into six states, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

There have been other proposals about breaking up California in the past. An effort by more rural, conservative counties sought to break away from the Golden State to become the “State of Jefferson.” Another group proposed creating a new state called “New California” out of mainly the inland counties of California.

Last year, there was also an effort to get California to secede from the United States, called CalExit.

As for now, California voters will get to have their say on the Cal 3 initiative in November.

(Illustrations credit: Cal3.com)