Two more eastern Oregon counties have reportedly voted in favor of the Greater Idaho movement.
Its purpose is to convince state legislatures to move the Oregon-Idaho border, turning conservative counties of Oregon into counties of Idaho.
In a Wednesday news release, the movement said it had seen victory in Morrow and Wheeler counties, clinching 60% and 58% of the votes as of that morning, respectively.
Its website showed May election results in all three counties that voted on the issue had improved by 4 percentage points after election night due to the slow counting in the state’s elections and the tendency of proponents to vote on Election Day.
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The Greater Idaho movement noted that it has already won elections in 11 of the 15 counties that are proposed to join the state —and that it has enough signatures to get on the ballot in Wallowa County.
It argued that it does not need votes in every county, because the election results show that any eastern Oregon county would approve the measure.
The Crook and Gilliam county clerks, the movement claims, have refused to allow signature-gathering and commissioners in those counties, and Umatilla has not yet agreed to put an advisory question regarding the issue on the ballot.
The movement cited Republican State Sen. Kim Thatcher’s win over Democrat Rich Walsh, as reported by The Oregonian, saying it seeks to get a resolution passed in the next sessions of both state legislatures that would invite discussions between state leaders on moving the border.
Mike McCarter, the movement’s leader, said he hopes the legislature would give the issue a hearing in December.
“We call on the legislature to let each half of the state go their separate ways in peace. If western Oregon doesn’t like the risk of being forced to accept the gubernatorial candidate it voted against, then it should simply stop holding our counties captive in this unhappy marriage. Actually, it’s not even as dramatic as a divorce, because we’re not breaking up a family. Moving a state border is similar to redistricting a utility provider,” McCarter said.
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“The movement is plain and simple, and all about values, not politics,” Boardman, Oregon, farmer Jonathan Tallman, 46, told the New York Post on Thursday. “We don’t relate to people in downtown Portland trying to push their agenda on us.”
Tallman said he doesn’t feel safe going to Portland.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan shared some of his concerns and lost to Democratic challenger Tina Kotek.
In 2021, multiple rural, conservative counties voted in support of considering becoming part of Idaho.
However, if Idaho and Oregon were to negotiate a border adjustment, U.S. Congress would have to sign off on it, in addition to both Oregon and Idaho legislatures.
The plan would create what would become the nation’s third-largest state geographically.
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The movement also says areas that “vote like Idaho does, and are economically healthy enough to be welcomed by Idaho” include southeastern Washington and northeastern California.
In April of last year, Democratic Idaho Sen. Michelle Stennett – who represents an area including the resort towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley – wondered about logistics, including cutting Idaho’s minimum wage.
“They’re looking at Idaho fondly because of our strong economy, regulatory atmosphere and our values,” Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, said last year, according to The Seattle Times. “There’s a lot that needs to happen before moving the border is within the realm of possibility.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.