A group of residents in Oregon could be a step closer to their goal of joining Idaho.
Voters in five Oregon counties will cast ballots May 18 on initiatives to join the state of Idaho, Move Oregon’s Border President Mike McCarter said Monday.
The group was already awarded measures in Grant, Malheur and Sherman counties, and it awaits signature verification in Baker and Lake counties, McCarter said. He said the group submitted 141% of the signatures required in those counties.
The group of conservative Oregonians created a petition last year to move Idaho’s border west to include part of their state, McClatchy News reported. It’s part of the “Greater Idaho” project, which would allow some Oregon counties to join a state that some people say more closely aligns with their political preferences.
It’s a complicated, multi-step process that would require local ballot measures and state and federal approval. The group hopes to eventually consume all but 14 of Oregon’s 36 counties.
Proponents say the “swaths of conservative, pro-Trump, anti-tax voters” in rural parts of Oregon have more in common with Idaho, and they want to claim it as their own state, McClatchy News reported.
“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” McCarter previously said. “We tried voting those legislators out but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored. This is our last resort.”
The coronavirus pandemic has helped solidify the Move Oregon Border group’s feelings. During COVID-19 lockdowns, McCarter said, lawmakers gave “COVID relief to urban Oregon instead of rural Oregon.”
Some in the group say they are tied to their communities and don’t want to move to Idaho but rather move Idaho to them.
Move Oregon’s Border is working to collect more signatures for a ballot initiative in seven counties, including Curry, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Harney, Morrow, and Umatilla.
“Divisions in Oregon are getting dangerous, so we see the relocation of the border as a way to keep the peace. It’s not divisive,” McCarter said. “Oregon and Idaho are already divided by a state line. The problem is that the location of the state line was decided 161 years ago and is now outdated.”