Interest in the two-year-old Yes California Independence Campaign increased after the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, as the controversial real-estate magnate lost the state by some 4-million votes.
To qualify for ballot status proponents of Calexit, named in reference to Brexit, the United Kingdom’s recent decision to leave the European Union, must collect 585,407 signatures from registered voters over the coming 180 days.
The movement is based on frustration with Californians paying more to Washington DC than the state receives in federal spending. The website reads: "As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states," explaining that the referendum "is about California taking its place in the world, standing as an equal among nations."
In December 2016 the movement opened an office in Moscow to act as a kind of embassy and cultural center, as part of an effort to lay the groundwork for diplomatic relations between Russia and a sovereign California Republic.
If passed, the ballot initiative would compel a statewide special election in 2019, asking voters whether they want California to remain a part of the US, or become an autonomous nation.
The California state attorney general, who first received the proposed ballot measure in November 2016, released a summary explaining that if the measure passed it would repeal clauses in California’s Constitution declaring the state to be "inseparable" from the US and keeping it under the legal authority of the US Constitution.