This map shows how Idaho's borders would look under a proposal being promoted by Move Oregon's Border. (Greater Idaho map)
VALE – Area voters get their first opportunity to weigh in on an ambitious plan designed to eventually shift a number of Oregon counties to Idaho.
If approved by voters on May 18, Measure 22-64 requires the Malheur County Court to meet three times a year to consider moving the Oregon-Idaho border to include a number of eastern and southern Oregon counties.
“It’s the beginning step. It is not a vote to secede from Oregon or start a new state. It’s just a vote to say, OK, the people want to start looking at the possibility of this happening,” said Mike McCarter, a retired La Pine resident who is president of Move Oregon’s Border.
Move Oregon’s Border is a non-profit organization that consists of residents from across eastern, central and southern Oregon.
The ultimate goal of the group is to slice off 18 counties and incorporate them into Idaho.
Proposals similar to the Malheur County initiative are up for a vote in Baker, Grant, Lake and Sherman counties.
Ron Jacobs, Malheur County commissioner, said he has “no problem” meeting three times a year to discuss the issue.
“If the people decided they wanted to move out, I’d be in favor. If the majority of voters said they wanted to stay, I’d support that too,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs said he believes there is a disconnect between eastern Oregon and the more populous Willamette Valley.
“I don’t feel like we are able to accomplish much because of the disparity in numbers over there,” said Jacobs.
In recent months, Move Oregon’s Border has spent more than $14,000 in Malheur and Baker counties to promote the effort, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s elections division.
McCarter said most of the money was consumed from the cost of a direct mail campaign in those counties.
McCarter said he also donated about $11,000 of his own money for the effort.
McCarter also testified before an Idaho legislative committee in April regarding the border issue.
“The Idaho Legislature is watching this very closely. They hear our story but want to see what the people say on it,” said McCarter.
McCarter said he hopes if the measure passes it will get the attention of Oregon lawmakers.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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