Greater Idaho, May 18, 2022
Klamath County Oregon voted in favor of a “Greater Idaho” ballot initiative, preliminary election results show today. The counties that have voted in favor of such initiatives now stretch from the Idaho border to the Cascade Mountains, without a break.
The Greater Idaho movement proposes to move the Oregon/Idaho border to include rural Oregon into Idaho so that conservative counties will be governed by a conservative state.
According to preliminary results, with more than half of votes counted, Klamath County, in eastern Oregon, voted 56% in favor, but southwestern Oregon did not approve: Douglas County voted 53% in opposition, and Josephine County voted 51% in opposition. The leader of the Greater Idaho movement, Mike McCarter, reacted to the poor showing in western Oregon by saying “that’s their decision to make, but eastern Oregon has consistently voted in favor and so we want eastern Oregon’s request to join Idaho to be heard.”
Now almost half of Oregon’s territory has voted in favor. Similar initiatives have been approved by voters in nine of the fifteen eastern Oregon counties that are included in the proposal. The nine counties that have voted in favor have 60% of the population of those 15 eastern Oregon counties. More counties are expected to vote in November, including Wallowa County and Morrow County, according to the movement’s website, greateridaho.org.
At a meeting today, the Baker County Board of Commissioners decided to become the fourth Oregon board of commissioners to sign an open letter to its state legislators asking them to address the Greater Idaho proposal in the state legislature. The Board’s letter supports the movement, saying “Eastern Oregon and Idaho, in general have much more in common.”
The ballot initiatives are not binding on state legislatures, where any decision to move the border would be made. The Klamath County measure requires that the county create a committee to look into the issue.
The movement is asking Oregon state legislators for hearings and for cosponsors for a resolution that would invite Idaho to begin talks with Oregon on moving the border.
When asked why the Oregon Legislature would be motivated to give up a part of the state, McCarter pointed to a January SurveyUSA poll. A mere three percent of voters of northwestern Oregon think keeping eastern and southern Oregon in the state is worth the substantial cost, according to the poll.
McCarter gave another reason to move the border. “Moving the border would let us live and let live. We know we’ll never make Portland agree with us, and we ask that state leaders understand that our communities will never agree with Portland. We will keep sending legislators who slow down their legislature and block their bills. If they want to make progress, they will have to let us join Idaho. Eastern Oregon has always been different culturally and occupationally from the Willamette Valley. Eastern Oregon is using the democratic process. If it’s wrong for Ukraine to be forced into Russia, then it’s wrong for Oregon to hold eastern Oregon captive against its will,” he said.