(Update: Crook County Judge Seth Crawford comments)
PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The continuing Greater Idaho movement to shift Oregon's border west so that much of Eastern Oregon joins its neighbor to the east claimed two wins Wednesday -- avoiding a recall of a razor-thin seven-vote win in Wallowa County and the Crook County Court's vote to put the advisory measure on next May's ballot.
Crook County Judge Seth Crawford said Thursday the county court voted unanimously to send it to next May’s ballot. He said they’d previously considered doing so, but a judge “shot down one of the measures we put out, so we were pretty gun-shy.”
Crawford said they sought some legal counsel and learned there would be “minimal liability to the county” if they put it on a regular ballot with other items, not just out on its own.
“I’ve always wanted to have people weigh in on it,” Crawford said Thursday, but “didn’t want taxpayer dollars” in jeopardy as a result.
He called it a "100 percent" advisory measure, not requiring action. And he's well aware that any such state line realignment would need approval by the legislatures of both states -- and by Congress as well.
Whatever the odds of actually happening, Crawford said it's a chance for voters to weigh in with their views, and that he agrees with the Greater Idaho movement that “things come out of Salem that don’t represent our communities.”
As for whether it will pass, he said: “I don’t know. We’ll definitely hear from both sides.”
Here's the group's news release:
The Wallowa County Clerk stated last night that the Greater Idaho ballot measure has avoided a recount because the election results were not close enough to trigger a recount. Yesterday was the last day that Oregon voters could cure their incomplete ballots. Greater Idaho ballot measures now have a perfect record in eastern Oregon.
The Crook County Court voted this morning to place a non-binding question about the Greater Idaho proposal on the county’s May 2024 ballot. The question (starts on Page 98 of county agenda) is "Should Crook County represent that its citizens support efforts to move the Idaho state border to include Crook County?"
The ballot summary states: "The Crook County Court has placed this advisory question on the ballot to determine voter attitudes of whether your Crook County elected officials should inform state and federal officials that the people of Crook County support continued negotiations regarding a potential relocation of the Oregon-Idaho border to include Crook County." The question is similar to questions approved by Wheeler County and Sherman County voters.
Crook County will be the thirteenth county to vote on the proposal. Umatilla and Gilliam counties are the only counties that are included in the proposal but that have not yet put the issue to their voters.
(A similar measure was passed by Jefferson County voters in the November 2020 election by about 200 votes out of 11,000-plus cast, 5,757 yes to 5,553 no votes.)
Some counties of Oregon are governed by a “county court” composed of a judge and two county commissioners, rather than by a board of commissioners.
The Greater Idaho movement believes that state leaders should want to let eastern Oregon join Idaho because it would benefit Oregon’s state budget, and because eastern Oregon’s state senators have announced that they will block votes in the Oregon Senate indefinitely until state leadership changes course, as their new op-ed explains.
The author, La Pine resident Mike McCarter, wrote that moving the state line would be good for the income taxes of both states: “Portland metro incomes are so high that any middle-income county that departs the Oregon state budget increases the average income of both Oregon and Idaho.”