Five more counties from Oregon are one step closer to becoming part of Idaho after voting in favor of the move on Tuesday, May 18. Even if the legislatures of both states approve, Congress must still sign off on it. Although it still seems like a long shot, Republicans are venturing ahead. Since Oregon and the U.S. Congress are run by Democrats, the hope and idea are just that at the moment.
Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur, and Sherman counties approved the ballot measures. Sherman voted for an initiative that would make the county commissioners responsible for promoting “the interests of the County in the relocation of Idaho state borders,” while the other four voted for a proposal that would require commissioners to meet a few times a year to “discuss how to promote the interests of [the county] in any negotiations regarding relocations of Idaho state borders,” according to Big Country News Connection. They join Jefferson and Union counties which last year approved similar measures.
According to Mike McCarter, president of Citizens for Greater Idaho:
“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. 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.”
Turnout in these counties for the special election far exceeded that of even the 2020 presidential vote: An average of 43% of voters participated compared to 25% for the latter. Of those, 62% of were in favor of moving the borders so that their counties would be included in Idaho. Petitioners from Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho would also like to see some counties in Northern California and Southern Washington follow suit as well.
The Beaver State has been suffering from months of riots in Portland, and the citizens in rural areas – most of whom are conservatives – don’t want their lives run by the urban Democrats anymore. They argue that their values are far different than those of their state government officials and the people residing in the larger cities. In Idaho, they believe they will have more common ground with state lawmakers and citizens who share the same values. In the 2020 election, voters chose President Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a 56% to 40% margin, but 69% to 79% of residents in the five counties that just voted to become part of the Gem State backed Trump.
Oregon is not the only place filled with unhappy citizens who would like to see borders redrawn. California, for example, has been trying to change its political geography for years. Its residents have considered everything from a total secession from the Union to splitting into three separate states. However, changing state lines isn’t a common thing. Only three times in U.S. history has a group of counties made the move from one state to another:
- 1792: Kentucky was created from Virginia’s territory.
- 1820: From Massachusetts, Maine was created.
- 1863: During the Civil War, when counties were divided between Confederate and the Union, West Virginia was admitted into the U.S.
The likelihood of rural counties in Oregon moving to Idaho is not likely, especially when most of the people who must sign off on it are Democrats, but the effort continues. Republican Idaho state Representatives Judy Boyle and Barbara Ehardt plan to introduce legislation in January 2022 for a possible relocation of the Idaho/Oregon border.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.