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California To Remain One Big State As Initiative To Split Into Six Fails

RIP Six Californias. The plan to split up the state has apparently ended after it failed to garner enough valid signatures to land on the 2016 ballot.

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The plan to break California into six separate states seemingly died a quiet death Friday.

The initiative — which was the brainchild of billionaire Timothy Draper — failed to get enough valid signatures to appear on the 2016 ballot. As a result, California Secretary of State Debra Brown Friday listed it as "failed."

Draper told BuzzFeed News in July that the plan would have given the region a "refresh" after what he characterized as 40 years of decline. Organizers created a tentative map of what the six states might have looked like:

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But wait! Didn't the plan already have enough signatures to proceed?

In July, the Six Californias initiative appeared to be on its way to the ballot after organizers announced they had gathered 1.3 million signatures. The initiative needed at least 807,615 signatures in order to go before voters.

However, the plan was derailed when not enough of the signatures were valid. According to data released by the California Secretary of State's Office, random sample testing projected that only 752,685 would actually count. That was lower than the number of signatures need to proceed.

Signature validity varied significantly by county; in Yuba only half were valid, while in Ventura that number jumped up to 82%. Signatures can be deemed invalid for a variety of reasons such as duplication, registration issues, or people signing in a county where they don't live.

Organizers of Six Californias aren't buying the state's results and have vowed to fight on.

In a statement issued to BuzzFeed News, Draper said Friday's outcome was exactly why the state needs to be split up in the first place:

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. In the meantime, we will work with the Secretary of State to verify all of the signatures gathered during the petition process.

Draper added that the initiative's signature-gathering firm predicted a "much higher validity rate" than the random sample testing produced. Organizers now plan to go back and check all the signatures themselves.

It's unclear what might happen if the signatures ended up being valid at this point, but BuzzFeed News has reached out to the California Secretary of State's office for comment.

Assuming organizers can't revive the plan, Six Californias will join a dizzying number of similar proposals in the history books.

There have been hundreds of plans to break California into multiple states. These proposals have varied in the number of states they tried to create, and in some cases involved regional secession attempts.

Six Californias also faced significant hurdles down the road; even if it had been approved by voters, Congress has the final say when it comes to making new states. And since the plan would have changed the legislative and electoral college balance, it probably would have been a hard-to-impossible sell for lawmakers outside of California.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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