A legendary Silicon Valley investor wants to split California into 3 states, and his proposal just qualified for the November ballot

  • A proposal to split California into three states — Northern California, California (new), and Southern California — has qualified to appear on the ballot in November's general election.
  • The measure received more than 400,000 valid signatures, thanks to support from legendary Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper.
  • The rationale: California is the most populous state in the nation. Having three states would give the people of California three times the number of senators in Washington, and allow state legislatures to tackle issues closer to home.

Tim Draper is known for having crazy ideas — and for funding them.

Now, the legendary Silicon Valley investor is making headway on a longtime and perhaps unrealistic effort to split California into three separate states: Northern California, California (new), and Southern California.

Draper's proposal to cut up the Golden State qualified on Tuesday to appear on the ballot in November's general election. It received more than 402,468 valid signatures, more than the amount required by state law, thanks to an ambitious campaign, called Cal 3, and financial backing from the early investor in Tesla, Skype, and Hotmail.

RELATED: The most devastating images from California's wildfires 

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The most devastating images from California's wildfires
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The most devastating images from California's wildfires
Thomas wildfire burns above Bella Vista Drive near Romero Canyon in this social media photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Department in Montecito, California, U.S. December 12, 2017. Courtesy Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Fire fighters attack the Thomas Fire?s north flank with backfires as they continue to fight a massive wildfire north of Los Angeles, near Ojai , California, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A firefighter is working on extinguishing the Lilac Fire, a fast moving wildfire, in Bonsall, California, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Firefighters work at the top of a hill as the Lilac Fire burns through Bonsall, California, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Firefighters battle to save one of many homes burning in an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, in Sylmar, California, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fire engulfs horse stables after an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, in Sylmar, California, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Lilac Fire, a fast moving wildfire in Bonsall, California, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A horse which was left behind after an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, is seen in Sylmar, California, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Burned up trees glow red in the dark after an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, in Sylmar, California, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Firefighters battle flames from a Santa Ana wind-driven brush fire called the Thomas Fire in Santa Paula, California, December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Area residents walk through a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
An aerial shows damage caused by wildfires in Santa Rosa, California, U.S October 11, 2017. Picture taken October 11, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase
A wildfire is shown from the air near Atlas Road during an operation to rescue people trapped by wildfire in Napa, California, U.S., October 9, 2017. Photo taken October 9, 2017. Courtesy California Highway Patrol/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
The Canyon Fire burns hillsides in Corona, California, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot
The Canyon Fire burns hillsides above houses in Corona, California, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/ Kyle Grillot
Firefighters watch a helicopter make a water drop on a wildfire burning behind the Getty Center in Mandeville Canyon in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 28, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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If a majority of California voters that cast ballots agree to divide the state into three, the plan would need approval from both houses of the California Legislation. Then it would reach the US Congress.

The last time an existing state split up, it was the 1860s and a civil war broke out. West Virginia was formed by seceding from a Confederate state over differences around slavery.

Draper has reasons for wanting to slice and dice his home state.

With slightly more than 39 million people, California is the most populous state in the nation. Supporters of the initiative argue the state isn't fairly represented with senators in Washington. The proposal would give the people of California six senators.

According to the Cal 3 website, partitioning the state would also allow state legislatures to make better and more sensible decisions for their communities. 

"The California state government isn't too big to fail, because it is already failing its citizens in so many crucial ways," Peggy Grande, a spokesperson for Citizens for Cal 3 campaign, said in a Tuesday statement. "The reality is that for an overmatched, overstretched, and overwrought state-government structure, it is too big to succeed. Californians deserve a better future." (You can read the full press release here.)

Even still, the proposal is as radical as it is unlikely to pass.

Critics of the initiative say having three Californias would actually diminish the power of Democrats. With its 55 electors in the Electoral College, California has long been a stronghold for the Democratic Party. Three smaller states would change that equation, which worries some Democrats.

Under the proposal, each state would have about one-third of the state population. 

California (new): This would include six counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and San Benito counties.

Southern California: This would have 12 counties: San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, Mono, Madera, Inyo, Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Kern, and Imperial counties.

Northern California: This would include 40 counties including the San Francisco Bay Area and the remaining counties north of Sacramento, the current state capital.

This is the third time Draper has tried to get voters to weigh in on breaking up the most populous US state. He backed proposals in 2012 and 2014 to create six California states, but both initiatives fell short of gathering enough valid signatures.

In 2016, an effort called Calexit sought to separate California from the US. The secession movement fell off after its leader announced he was moving to Russia.

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