Get ready to vote on breaking California up into three states


An initiative that calls for California to be split into three new states appears to have enough signatures to qualify for the November general election. County clerks are reviewing the petitions collected for Tim Draper’s Division of California into Three States initiative and, one by one, reporting back to the secretary of state’s office.

So far, random signature checks are complete in 48 of California’s 58 counties, with a validation rate of 76% – of the 472,000 signatures reviewed, 358,000 passed the random test. In theory, Draper only needs 366,000 valid signatures, but if this initial screening shows that at least 402,000 signatures (110% of the minimum) are good, then the measure automatically qualifies for the ballot. No further checking is necessary.

To reach the 110% threshold, of the remaining 133,000 signatures, only 44,000 need to prove out. That’s a 33% validation rate, less than half the average so far. It appears that Draper has solved the quality control problem that scuttled his initial attempt to break up California into six new states.

This new effort creates three new states – California, Northern California and Southern California – with roughly equal population, but varying income levels. Median household incomes drop from $63,000 a year in Northern California to $53,000 in the L.A.-anchored coastal strip nominally called California, to $45,000 in the new Southern California.

Even if voters approve, though, the U.S. congress has to agree and that’s a very long shot. Particularly if California’s political ruling class digs in to fight it, as they certainly will. Disruption might be a wonderful thing in Silicon Valley, where Draper calls home, but in Sacramento it means losing power, perks and privileges, which no one there wants.

The ten remaining counties have until Wednesday to complete the job, so we should know soon whether we’ll be voting to break up California, or not, in November.