Californians might vote in 2018 on taking steps toward secession in a 'Calexit'

In 2018, the issue of whether California should secede from the union could come to a head.

Yes California Independence Campaign, a fringe political group that calls for the state to become an independent nation, filed a proposed ballot measure with the Attorney General's Office on November 21, The Sacramento Bee reports.

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If it garners the half a million signatures required to appear on the 2018 gubernatorial ballot, the measure would strike language from the state constitution that would help clear a path to secession.

Still, a state holds no right to secede under federal law. Californians would need to pass an amendment to the US Constitution, which requires the blessings of the other 49 states.

The measure would also survey voters on whether a "Calexit" is something that interests them. If a clear majority declares their support for a Brexit-style departure, the state would hold a special election in March 2019 asking voters again if they want California to secede.

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In a recent interview with Business Insider, Louis Marinelli, president of Yes California, described the plans as a "double opt-in" process.

Far-fetched as it may sound, Calexit started gathering steam as Californians came to terms with a Donald Trump presidency on November 9. The campaign became a nationwide social media trend in a matter of hours, but has since fizzled.

The movement initially found an impressive backer in Shervin Pishevar, a well-known angel investor. He took to Twitter on election night urging California to become its own nation and offering to bankroll a secession campaign. Pishevar has since walked back those claims.

Marcus Ruiz Evans, Yes California Independence Campaign, calexit
Marcus Ruiz Evans, Yes California Independence Campaign, calexit

Noah Berger/Reuters

Yes California isn't giving up hope. It knows first-hand the challenges that lie ahead.

In 2015, Marinelli paid $200 each to get nine initiatives related to secession on a statewide ballot, according to The Los Angeles Times. None garnered the nearly 400,000 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot. So Marinelli and his followers were forced to start over.

The difference this time is that Trump is headed to the White House, Marinelli said.

"I think that we've seen — in my lifetime — a gradual, but steady deterioration of the system and the health of the republic, basically. I think that at one point or another, it's going to crumble," Marinelli said. "I think a lot of Californians just came to that realization."

Marinelli warns that if the American public could vote a controversial nominee such as Trump into office, the presidential candidates who follow will push the envelope again.

"Who are they going to elect next time? I think the people in California would certainly not like to find out, personally," Marinelli said. "So, let's get out of that system so we can elect fair-minded, rational politicians to office."

In the unlikely event Californians vote to approve the ballot measure put forth by Yes California, the state would repeal one important sentence from the California Constitution. It reads, "The State of California is an inseparable part of the United States of America, and the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land."

For the special election in 2019 to be valid, at least 50% of the state's registered voters must participate and more than 55% must vote "yes," according to the measure's text.

Even so, it would be incredibly difficult for California to pull off a Calexit.

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