- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2014

It looks like there’s only going to be one California for the foreseeable future.

The proposed “Six Californias” initiative failed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot after coming up short on a sampling of the submitted signatures, according to figures released by the California Secretary of State.

Proponents, led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, submitted 1.137 million signatures, but the sampling found that only 752,685, or 66 percent, likely were valid. The measure needed 807,615 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify.

But Mr. Draper isn’t giving up. He issued a statement Friday saying that he was confident that a “full check” of the signatures would show that the campaign had cleared the threshold, and that he will decide how to proceed after reviewing the petitions.

The petition-gathering firm hired by the Six Californias campaign “predicted a much higher validity rate than the random sample result,” Mr. Draper said.

“It is unfortunate that the current archaic system has delayed this process. It is yet another example of the dysfunction of the current system and reinforces the need for six fresh, modern governments,” Mr. Draper said. “In the meantime, we will work with the Secretary of State to verify all of the signatures gathered during the petition process.”

Billionaire Mr. Draper had spent $5.2 million on the Six Californias initiative, which would have divided the nation’s most populous state into six smaller states: Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, West California, and South California.

Mr. Draper had argued that the six states would better represent their constituents but critics dismissed the proposal, saying it was unrealistic and took attention from more viable solutions to California’s problems.

“Six Californias was a solution in search of a problem that didn’t address any of our state’s challenges,” former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, chairman of One California, told the Sacramento Bee. “The implosion of this ballot measure spares us from a two-year campaign of bashing our great state, which continues to be the nation’s bastion of innovation, diversity, and progress.”

Six Californias is the most visible but not the only secession movement brewing in California. Representatives of two Northern California counties, Modoc and Siskiyou, held a rally and submitted a petition Aug. 28 at the state capitol asking to be allowed to form a 51st state called Jefferson.

The boards of supervisors of the two rural counties, which border Oregon, voted last year in favor of resolutions to withdraw from California and form a new state. Four other northern California counties have also voted to join the 51st state.

“This isn’t a new thing. It’s been done before. We’re not treading in uncharted waters,” said Jefferson Declaration organizer Mark Baird at the rally in a video on the State of Jefferson website. “There’s precedent, there’s historic and moral imperatives to do exactly what we’re doing today.”

Since border disputes and territorial claims among the newly independent colonies were settled in the 1790s, two states have gained statehood after having been part of another state. Maine had been part of Massachusetts until it was accepted as its own state in 1820, and the western counties of Virginia seceded from the state during the Civil War and set up the state of West Virginia to remain with the Union.

A Field Poll released Dec. 11 found that most Californians surveyed weren’t yet sold on the idea, with 59 percent saying they oppose allowing the northernmost counties to split off and 25 percent saying they approve.

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