A controversial plan to split California into three new states will appear on the November 6 ballot this year.
If the majority of voters agree to split the state up, it would begin a long process of legislation until any division would take place. Even if voters say yes, it would still have to pass through a variety of judicial, state, and federal hurdles in order to happen.
California splitting into three states would be the first time this has happened to a state since West Virginia broke away from Virginia in 1863.
The whole idea is the brainchild of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper. “Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education, and lower taxes,” he said. “States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens.”
The proposal will attempt to invoke Article IV, Section 3 of the US Constitution, which gives guidelines on the process of dividing up an existing state.
The proposed three states would be named Northern California, California, and Southern California and divide the population into equal thirds.
Northern California would stretch from Oregon to just north of Fresno and include cities such as San Francisco and Sacramento. California would run along the coast from Monterey to Los Angeles. Southern California would start along the Mexican border, avoid Los Angeles, and stretch all the way up to Fresno.
Since the state became a part of the Union in 1850, there have been more than 200 attempts to reconfigure the borders, split it up, or even secede and become a new country.
Despite the break-up plan reaching the November ballot, it is highly unlikely that the split will take place. The political ramifications of the three new states could be significant which is why it would be highly unlikely to ever make it through Congress.
The 100-person Senate would grow to 104 and likely a gain for the Democrat party in a state known for its left-leaning politics. This would mean resistance from the opposing Republican party.
On the other hand, the Democrats would not want to lose out on their current 55 Electoral College votes they have secured for over two decades in presidential elections. One of the three states would have voted Republican based on past election results, a risk the Democrats would not be willing to take in future elections.
A risk-averse Congress would see the split as too risky a move politically for both sides and would most likely shut down the split quickly.