California counties will vote on secession

May 29, 2014

 

Voters in two rural Northern California counties will weigh in next week on whether they want to secede to form their own inland state.

Combined, Del Norte and Tehama counties have about 91,000 people. In measures on next Tuesday’s primary election ballot, those voters will decide whether to ask their local boards of supervisors to join an effort led by four other counties to create a 51st state, called Jefferson.

Boards of supervisors in Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou and Yuba counties have already voted to explore secession, and Butte County supervisors have their own vote scheduled for June 10, the Associated Press reported.

Voters in Siskiyou County will be asked on Tuesday whether they want to rename their county the Republic of Jefferson.

Those counties represent a huge chunk of California’s landmass, accounting for an area about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. But only 467,000 residents live in those seven counties, meaning they only have one state senator representing them in Sacramento. By contrast, the Los Angeles area sends about 20 state senators to the capital.

But even with a secession vote, don’t expect to see flags with 51 stars just yet. Both the state legislature and Congress would have to approve the split.

The secession votes are the latest in a series of efforts, mostly by rural conservative voters, to split from states that they say no longer pay attention to their needs. Several rural northern counties in Colorado voted to secede in last November’s elections. The Wisconsin Republican Party voted last month to uphold the state’s right to secede from the union. And a wealthy investor is pushing a ballot measure in California that would split the mega-state into six smaller states.

All told, U.S. history is ripe with attempted, but ultimately doomed, secession movements. If they had all succeeded, flag-makers would be working overtime to sew up to 124 stars in amongst the stripes.


Secession movements throughout U.S. history (By Andrew Shears)
Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.
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