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Campaign to move the Idaho-Oregon border gains a 12th county’s support. What to know

After Tuesday night’s special election in Oregon, the long-shot Greater Idaho Movement has claimed victory in 12 eastern Oregon counties despite results not being finalized as of Thursday afternoon. The movement’s proposal calls for 14 full counties in eastern Oregon to move to Idaho, as well as the eastern side of a number of other counties in central Oregon.

Wallowa County, located in the northeast corner of the state and bordering both Idaho and Washington state, voted on the ballot question requiring county commissioners to discuss the possibility of moving the Idaho-Oregon state line westward.

As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, 3,421 people had voted on the measure, with 50.3% voting in favor of requiring discussions on moving the state border. The county has a population of 7,659, which is about 2% of the people of eastern Oregon, according to the Greater Idaho Movement.

Although ballots still need to be counted, due to Oregon law allowing mail-in ballots to be received after election day if they were mailed on or before election day, the Greater Idaho Movement believes that the vote will swing in its favor.

“The final election results in favor of Greater Idaho ballot measures have always been one to four percentage points higher than the election night result,” the movement stated in a news release. “So the Greater Idaho movement feels confident that their measure has won the Wallowa County election.”

The proclaimed victory now means that all three Oregon counties that border Idaho — Wallowa, Baker and Malheur — have voted in favor of the movement.

The Greater Idaho Movement claimed victory in Wallowa County after Tuesday night’s special election in Oregon. Wallowa County voted on a measure that would require county commissioners to discuss the possibility of moving the state border.
The Greater Idaho Movement claimed victory in Wallowa County after Tuesday night’s special election in Oregon. Wallowa County voted on a measure that would require county commissioners to discuss the possibility of moving the state border.

The partisan-motivated movement was founded in 2020 to separate right-wing eastern Oregon counties from the Democratic-leaning western counties. The campaign calls for the state line to shift to approximately the east edge of the Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon, allowing Idaho to adopt up to 14 counties.

The Republican-dominated Idaho House passed a Greater Idaho bill in February, but the bill stalled in the Senate State Affairs Committee. The bill would have required the Idaho Legislature to begin discussions with the Oregon Legislature on moving the border. Proponents of the bill argued, among other things, that moving the state line would push Oregon’s drug laws farther away from Idaho’s population.

Wallowa County initially rejected putting the Greater Idaho measure on the ballot, according to previous Idaho Statesman reporting, but a voters initiative garnered enough votes to have it there.

Three counties in the area that would join Idaho — Umatilla, Gilliam and Crook — have not yet voted on the idea, but Crook County will vote in the near future, according to the movement. The Greater Idaho map also calls for parts of Wasco, Jefferson, Deschutes and Klamath counties to join Idaho — Jefferson and Klamath have already voted yes, while the border in Deschutes County notably leaves Bend, a city which notably votes for Democrats, in Oregon.

Tuesday night’s vote likely won’t be the last people hear about the movement.

The group tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “Rural Oregon will keep electing more kamikazee (sic) Republicans who are willing to bring the Oregon Legislature to a halt every year if that’s what it takes to block unacceptable laws from being passed. If you don’t like that, then let us join Idaho, and w. OR can have a bluer blue state.”

The likelihood of the Greater Idaho movement succeeding is minuscule. Both state legislatures would have to approve it, as would Congress.