Five eastern Oregon counties voted Tuesday to consider joining Idaho, the biggest victory to date for the movement to split off from the Democrat-controlled blue state by redrawing state lines.
Citizens for Greater Idaho said that the five rural counties — Sherman, Lake, Grant, Baker and Malheur — approved measures directing county commissioners to promote the concept of border relocation, joining two other counties, Union and Jefferson, that did so in November.
The Nov. 3 election also saw two other counties defeat the Greater Idaho proposal, but on Tuesday, all five counties with the initiatives on the ballot passed them.
“This election proves that rural Oregon wants out of Oregon. If Oregon really believes in liberal values such as self-determination, the Legislature won’t hold our counties captive against our will,” said Mike McCarter, president of Citizens for Greater Idaho. “If we’re allowed to vote for which government officials we want, we should be allowed to vote for which government we want as well.”
Support for the measures ranged from 54% in Malheur County to 74% in Lake County. Average turnout in the county elections was 43%, well above the statewide average of 25%, according to the organization.
The ballot language differed slightly. “Sherman County voted for a ballot initiative that makes county commissioners responsible for promoting ‘the interests of the County in the relocation of Idaho state borders,’” said Greater Idaho.
The other four counties “voted for a ballot initiative that requires county commissioners to meet periodically to ‘discuss how to promote the interests of [the county] in any negotiations regarding relocations of Idaho state borders,’” the group said.
The ballot measures are part of a larger plan to pressure Oregon and Idaho legislators to “negotiate an interstate compact to relocate their common border.”
The goal is to bring 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties into Idaho’s more conservative-friendly environs, a border reimagining that would require approval from both state legislatures and Congress.
The idea is a longshot, of course, but those happy to welcome the disgruntled Oregonians include Idaho Gov. Brad Little, who has said he understands why people would want to be part of the state famous for its potatoes.
“They’re looking at Idaho fondly because of our regulatory atmosphere, our values,” Mr. Little told Fox News in February. “It doesn’t surprise me one bit.”
He also said that the name would not change to “Greater Idaho.”
“No matter what happens, we’ll maintain our name,” he said.