Bid to Split California Into Three States to Appear on November Ballot

The nation's most populous state could be broken up into three new jurisdictions. Secretary of State Alex Padilla said a new ballot measure aimed at dividing California into three has gained enough signatures to qualify it for the Nov. 6 election. 

California's proposition system allows any ballot proposition that garners enough signatures to appear on the ballot for voters to vote on. According to Padilla, Cal-3, the group behind the proposal, managed to gather more than 402,468 signatures, more than enough for it to qualify for the November ballot.

The proposal, written by Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, invokes Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, a provision that guides how an existing state can be divided up into new states. The new jurisdictions carved out of the Golden State would begin with Los Angeles County and six other counties retaining the original "California" name. 

The second state would be based around San Diego in the south and running up to Madera County in the Central Valley covering much of the south eastern parts of the state. The third state would consist of the 40 counties that stretch from the state's border with Oregon to Santa Cruz County.

Draper argues in the initiative's opening passage that “vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.”

If a majority of the state's voters agree to split up the Golden State into three new ones, it would be the first time a state has been split up since the creation of West Virginia in 1863, shortly before the Civil War. 

Draper proposed similar initiatives back in 2012 and again in 2014, but those efforts failed after election officials invalidated the signatures collected. 

Should voters approve the proposition, California would still remain intact. It would then be handed off to both houses of the California legislature who would need to approve the measure. Even then, Congress would have to give the thumbs up before Californians needed to start updating their mailing addresses. 

This isn't the first time someone has attempted to split California up into three states. The last three-state proposal was created by a Butte County legislator in 1993, but it too, failed to gather enough support. 

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