The ballot measure that could lead to San Bernardino County seceding is now in the hands of the voters.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. today. Early unofficial election results are expected about 30 minutes after polls close, according to the Registrar of Voters.
Measure EE is about more than secession, of course:
“Do the people of San Bernardino County want San Bernardino County elected representatives to study and advocate for all options to obtain the county’s fair share of State funding up to and including secession from the State of California?” it reads on the ballot.
But it’s that final idea — of San Bernardino County leaving California — that grabbed most of the attention.
Real estate developer Jeff Burum originally introduced the idea of the measure at the July 26 meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
“With the way things are in California right now, I don’t know if there’s any hope for California,” he told the board in July.
Burum has argued — as have some supervisors — that San Bernardino County is getting shortchanged in tax revenue by both the state of California and federal government.
County staff assembled data from the California controller’s office to look at how much money each of the state’s 56 counties get, per capita, from the state and federal governments. San Bernardino County ranked 36th on the document, behind behind Los Angeles County, which is ranked 28th, but ahead of wealthy counties like Sonoma (45th), Santa Barbara (52nd) and Orange (55th) counties.
The top 10 counties on the county’s document — Alpine, Sierra, Trinity, Modoc, Mariposa, Del Norte, Plumas, Glenn, Inyo and Lassen — are mostly rural, with average to low per capita incomes, suggesting that counties do worse based on having higher populations, rather than their political clout.
Prior to the election, Burum predicted Measure EE would be passed by a super-majority of residents. A small poll he paid for showed 53% of respondents supported Measure EE.
If the measure passes and the Board of Supervisors finds no way to get the county’s “fair share” other than secession, it’s still a long shot.
Both the state Legislature and Congress would have to vote to approve the county striking out on its own.
If the county’s secession movement succeeded, the new state — which Burum has suggested could be named “Empire” — would be the first since Hawaii was established in 1959. And it would be the first carved out of another state since West Virginia left Virginia in 1863 over Appalachian residents’ opposition to slavery.