SACRAMENTO — Voters in Del Norte and Tehama counties vote Tuesday on Measure A, an advisory question that asks each county’s board of supervisors to join a wider effort to form a 51st state named Jefferson. Elected officials in Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou and Yuba counties already have voted to join the movement.
The steps to secede are laid out in the U.S. Constitution. The last state to secede was West Virginia in 1863. The Northern California effort relies on a legal strategy that supporters hope will lead either to secession or greater representation in the California Legislature.
Here are the steps:
— Proponents of the current measure would seek county-by-county approval to separate and form the new state of Jefferson.
— Once it is determined which counties want to participate, approval from a simple majority is required from the state Legislature and both houses of Congress.
— Supporters would file a lawsuit if the Legislature votes against allowing the counties to break away or refuses to consider the request. They would claim that they suffered harm in being rejected, creating standing for them to file suit in federal court.
— Proponents would challenge the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Reynolds v. Sims, which overturned the apportionment of lawmakers in state legislatures based upon geography rather than population. That reapportionment dramatically increased the number of California state senators representing urban residents and decreased those representing rural ones.