Five rural Oregon counties voted Tuesday in favor of considering a permanent move to Idaho in efforts to join a more conservative political environment.
Voters in Malheur, Sherman, Grant, Baker and Lake counties passed a measure that would require county officials to promote and discuss moving the Idaho border west, and incorporate their populations. The counties would join Union and Jefferson counties in Idaho. The predominant industries in the counties that voted to join Idaho are timber, mining, trucking and farming.
The measure might capture local sentiment, but actually moving the border would require much wider support, including the approval of both Oregon and Idaho state legislatures. It would also require approval from Congress.
The efforts were led by the grassroots group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, which believes adding conservative counties to Idaho would benefit the state. The group cites Oregon’s lack of rural representation in the legislature, the state’s 2020 drug decriminalization law, and the state’s tax rate as reasons to move out of the state.
“If Oregon really believes in liberal values such as self-determination, the legislature won’t hold our counties captive against our will,” said Mike McCarter, the leader of the movement, in a statement. “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.”
The grassroots organization also strives to grow Idaho west and south into counties in northern California.