Venture capitalist Timothy Draper’s “Six Californias” ballot referendum petition has now been submitted to the California Secretary of State’s office, which now has to verify the 1.3 million signatures Draper’s group has collected before the plan to divide the state into six new states can go on the 2016 ballot. Constitutional amendments may only go on the ballot in California during general election years, which is why the Six Californias group is aiming for 2016 rather than 2014.
Under California law, the number of signatures required to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot is eight percent of the voters casting ballots for governor in the most recent election. In 2010, 10,095,200 Californians cast ballots for governor, eight pecent of which is 807,615 which makes it a virtual certainty that the referrendum will appear on the 2016 ballot.
Draper, founder of a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, has a record of backing successful ventures. The architect behind the blueprint to break California apart has also backed Twitter, Skype and Tesla when the young companies needed a kick-start. According to Fox News, Draper clearly sees that the size and complexity of California mandates a change. Draper has reportedly invested $4.9 million of his own money to back the idea.
“In the nation’s most populous state, California needs government that is more representative and accountable,” said Draper. “California needs a reboot, and this idea would embrace innovation and strive to improve the lives of residents. Our state needs our help,” explained Draper.
In addition, supporters of the campaign argue that California’s schools have fallen to the near bottom of the country in terms of educational measurements, and the Golden State is ranked dead last of all the 50 states as the worst climate for businesses in the United States. Finally, proponents of the proposed ballot measure explain that California also has extraordinarily high unemployment rates and poverty figures.
According to Carla Marinucci, San Francisco-based reporter for the SFGate, as part of Draper’s plan, each of the California states would elect its own government including individual state senators and congressmen. “Draper is not just a multimillionaire, he is also known as the ‘Riskmaster,’” explained Marinucci.
Looking at how the new map of California would be drawn, Draper is proposing that the new State of Silicon Valley include San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, as well as the coastal regions of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. A new state called South California would include both San Diego and Orange counties while West California would be made up of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. Central California would annex the Central Valley and the southern Sierras. North California would be comprised of Sacramento, Sonoma and Marin counties while the new state of Jefferson would be represented by the rural, far northern areas of today’s Northern California. In total, the California plan may make a ballot measure that would divide California into six independent states.
Still, the ballot plan is far from a reality. In fact, according to Marinucci, in a recent poll taken earlier this year, nearly 60 percent of California residents opposed the plan to divide California into six states. In addition, Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian explained that there are also several procedural hurdles to clear. For example, any amendment to California’s constitution will require the approval of both houses in Sacramento.
“First, state officials need to approve the petitions before the initiative can qualify. Plus, even if voters pass the initiative, it would need congressional approval,” said Megerian. In addition, Megerian explained that efforts to divide California into multiple states have been attempted more than 200 times before.
Congressional approval is, however, the biggest hurdle the plan must get over in order to become reality, requiring majority votes in both Houses of Congress for the newly created territories to become states. In effect, if the amendment is approved by the voters, it sets a process in motion under which the six regions must first seccede from the state of California, which would make them territories of the United States that would then have to apply for admission to the Union as new states. No state has ever subdivided itself in this manner before, so there may be several precedents set or broken during this process. For example, the amendment to the state constitition would usurp local prerogatives since secession is technically something originated by the section of a state that wishes to remove itself from the rest of the state.
By filing his signatures with the California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Draper hopes to infuse his own version of Silicon Valley innovation throughout the entire State of California. With the number of signatures already collected, it is a virtual certainty that the amendment will be on the ballot, triggering the biggest ballot battle since Proposition 13 triggered a tax payer rebellion across the United States, and Proposition 8 set the battleground for the struggle for marriage equality. If the measure is successful, and the newly created states actually gain admission to the United States of America, it could set the state for further subdivisions that could result in the “Balkanization” of the nation.
By Vincent Aviani
Six Califonia’s Petition
California Secretary of State Website