California moves forward with a six-state proposition

  California has moved forward with an initiative to split itself into six individual states after a petition to proceed with the six-state proposition garnered…
California moves forward with a six-state proposition

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper presents his drivers license for identification purposes to Heather Ditty, elections manager for the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, as he turns in boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to split California into six separate states, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California has moved forward with an initiative to split itself into six individual states after a petition to proceed with the six-state proposition garnered 1.3 million signatures and was officially submitted this week. Californians, led by Timothy Draper—who is a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist—believe they now have enough signatures to get the proposal on the official 2016 ballot.

While the proposition’s approval and ratification remain highly unlikely, the high number of signatures collected are indicative of a collective strain of discontent with the state’s government that stretches throughout the state.

The official petition— which was submitted on July 15 and qualifies as a constitutional amendment—necessitated 807, 615 votes in order to qualify for the electoral ballot. Draper managed to garner 1.3 million; however, under state law the signatures must be validated as legitimate before they can be considered for the official tally.

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As TIME’s Katy Steinmetz explains, “Initial vote counts should be done by September; if a random sample of signatures checks out, county officials will likely move on to verifying each signature.” Even if the signature threshold is met and verified, supporters will have to wait for the November 2016 ballot seeing that the deadline to submit petitions for this year’s ballot has already passed.

And yet, spearheaded by Draper, advocates have not let the tedious and drawn-out process of ratification phase them. Draper, who has accumulated most of his wealth through successful investments in start-ups such as Skype and Tesla recently told TIME that, “The strongest argument for Six Californias is that we are not well-represented. The people down south are very concerned with things like immigration law and the people way up north are frustrated by taxation without representation. And the people in coastal California are frustrated because of water rights. And the people in Silicon Valley are frustrated because the government doesn’t keep up with technology. And in Los Angeles, their issues revolve around copyright law. Each region has its own interest, and I think California is ungovernable because they can’t balance all those interests. I’m looking at Six Californias as a way of giving California a refresh and allowing those states to both cooperate and compete with each other.”

Under the new set-up, California would be comprised of the following six states: Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California, and South California. As Draper suggests, the redrawing of state borders would lend itself to a more effective and representative form of governance. Critics, however, tend to point out the idealistic simplicity of the proposition.

As Slate’s Senior Technology Writer Will Oremus explains, “Draper calls it the “Six Californias” plan, which cleverly makes it sound like the state would be multiplied rather than divided.”

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Oremus is just one of many opponents who indicate that despite its many flaws, the status quo is a far better alternative to the proposed six-state resolution. Specifically, the official ‘Six Californias’ platform does little to explain how the state’s water resources, prison population, state-funded universities, and massive debt will be divvied up. Further, the plan’s enactment could lead to the creation of massive wealth disparities amongst the new states. As Zeninjor Enwemeka of reports, “A report released in January by Legislative Analyst’s Office in California found the Six Californias plan would create the richest state in the country (Silicon Valley) and the poorest state in the country (Central California).”

As of now, polls indicate that approximately 60% of Californians oppose the six-state proposal. Moreover, even if the proposition were approved on the California ballot, it would still require ratification on the national level by both the President and Congress. Amidst these circumstances, the establishment of six states seems improbable at best; but the recent traction gained by the initiative and mere number of signatures acquired for the petition remains noteworthy nonetheless.

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