BURNS, Ore. (AP) — Another rural, conservative county in Oregon has expressed interest in becoming part of Idaho.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that voters in Harney County on Tuesday approved a ballot measure which requires local officials to hold meetings about moving the county into Idaho. The measure passed with more than 63% of the vote. The unofficial results were: 1,567 for and 917 against.
Harney became the eighth of Oregon’s 36 counties to vote for considering adjusting Oregon’s border to put much of rural eastern and southern Oregon in Idaho.
“Rural Oregon is declaring as loudly as it can that it does not consent to being misgoverned by Oregon’s leadership and chooses to be governed as part of a state that understands rural Oregon’s values and way of making a living,” said Mike McCarter, a La Pine resident who heads Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, which is behind the initiatives.
These ballot initiatives are non-binding; the point of them, McCarter says, is to force Idaho’s and Oregon’s legislatures to take up the issue, which is highly unlikely.
If Idaho and Oregon were to negotiate a border adjustment, the U.S. Congress would have to sign off on it.
The other counties that have voted for a Move Oregon’s Border-backed initiative in the last two years: Baker, Grant, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Sherman and Union. Two small counties have voted against the border-moving idea.
Douglas and Klamath counties likely will be next to vote.
News release from Citizens for Greater Idaho:
Eighth Oregon County Votes in Favor of Greater Idaho
Harney County, Oregon voted heavily in favor of a ballot measure placed on the ballot by petitioners for the Greater Idaho movement in a special election Tuesday. This movement seeks to shift the Oregon/Idaho border to add eastern and southern Oregon counties to Idaho.
Voters in favor outnumbered those opposed 1.7 to 1: 63% voted in favor, 37% opposed. Greater Idaho was the only county-wide issue on the ballot, and there were no statewide races, and the turnout in Harney County was 70% higher than the statewide average for this month’s special elections.
Mike McCarter of La Pine, president of Move Oregon’s Border, reacted to the vote: “rural Oregon is declaring as loudly as it can that it does not consent to being misgoverned by Oregon’s leadership and chooses to be governed as part of a state that understands rural Oregon’s values and way of making a living. We call on the Oregon Legislature to not dare to hold these counties captive. Let the people decide which legislature they shall govern themselves by. This week’s poll shows that Idaho is ready to accept our counties.”
In May, all five counties that voted on the issue voted in favor, averaging 62% in favor, 38% opposed. Two counties voted in favor in November 2020. Move Oregon’s Border says it has enough signatures to get the issue on the May 2022 ballot in Douglas County and Klamath County. Citizens are still collecting signatures for the movement in Curry, Josephine, Morrow, and Umatilla counties. “In Coos, Crook, Gilliam, Wheeler, and Wallowa counties, we are asking citizens to contact their county commissioners to put an advisory question on their ballot,” said Mike McCarter, “however, we don’t need a vote from every county just to convince the state legislatures to move the border. We’re asking everyone to contact their state legislators now.”
“Northwestern Oregon should want to let eastern and southern Oregon counties join Idaho. Because if they do, then state income tax revenue would improve by hundreds of dollars per person annually, because the per capita personal income of these counties is only as high as Idaho’s. Also, our counties elect representatives who gridlock the Oregon Legislature. If the Legislature wants to make progress, they’ll have to let our counties go,” McCarter said.