Voters in Oregon’s Harney County will be asked in November to decide on a “Greater Idaho” proposal, potentially allowing the county and several others in Oregon to join the neighboring state, according to a group that has collected signatures in support of the initiative.
Citizens for Greater Idaho’s website said on July 19 that the group has obtained enough signatures.
The group said the proposal would “extend Idaho’s jurisdiction over rural, conservative counties of eastern and southern Oregon” and are also “intended to put pressure on the state legislatures of Oregon and Idaho to negotiate an interstate compact to relocate their common border.”
“Idaho’s government would defend us from the radical Left’s cultural revolution and preserve our way of life—Oregon’s government wouldn’t,” said Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border and Citizens for Greater Idaho, in a statement. “We may be able to convince northwestern Oregon to let eastern and southern Oregon counties go.”
Most voters in Oregon live in the northwestern part of the state, which includes heavily Democratic Portland, McCarter said in an interview with television station KTVZ.
“We feel in rural Oregon that we’re somewhat ignored,” he added on July 19, explaining why some residents in Harney County—located in eastern Oregon—may want to join Idaho. With just 7,400 residents, Harney is the state’s most sparsely populated county as well as one of the most sparsely populated counties in the United States.
Voters in seven other Oregon counties, he said, have already voted in favor of their county leaders meeting twice per year to discuss the “Greater Idaho” proposal.
Some experts noted that the concept is a long shot, as it would require the approval of the Democrat-led state legislature as well as the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress.
“The Oregon Legislature has to pick up the discussions and start dealing with the Idaho Legislature,” McCarter told the station. “And if they can come to an agreement to move the counties out from under Oregon’s governance and under Idaho’s governance, then it goes back to the U.S. Congress for approval.”
However, according to a statement from his group, tax revenue for Oregon residents would increase if those counties joined Idaho, placing an incentive on the legislature to allow the rural counties to depart.
“Because if they do, then the state income tax revenue would improve by $367 per wage-earner annually, because the per capita personal income of these counties is only as high as Idaho’s,” he said. “Is northwestern Oregon willing to forgo that, just to keep Oregon looking big on a map? How does keeping our counties under the governance of Salem improve their lives in any way?”
Move Oregon’s Border is currently collecting signatures in Curry, Josephine, Douglas, Klamath, Morrow, and Umatilla counties, the statement noted. On May 18, the counties of Malheur, Sherman, Grant, Baker, and Lake voted to consider joining Idaho.
Harney County officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.