2 more Oregon counties say ‘yes’ to Greater Idaho, but ballot wins far from moving borders

2 more Oregon counties say 'yes' to Greater Idaho, but ballot wins far from moving borders
2 more Oregon counties say 'yes' to Greater Idaho, but ballot wins far from moving borders(Citizens for Greater Idaho)
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 5:53 PM PST
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - Residents in Morrow County and Wheeler County have voted in favor of a measure related to moving the state line between Oregon and Idaho, joining nine previous eastern Oregon counties to vote in support of “Greater Idaho.”

The Oregon Secretary of State website shows on Wednesday afternoon that of 800 votes in Wheeler County, 58% were in favor, and of the 3,837 votes in Morrow County, 60% were in favor.

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According to the Greater Idaho movement, 11 of the 15 counties they hope to add to Idaho have now voted in favor of related ballot measures, which they say is enough to demonstrate that all 15 counties would vote in support if given the chance.

The previous nine counties to vote include Sherman, Jefferson, Grant, Union, Baker, Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur. But like many of the previous votes, the measures approved on Tuesday did not directly address moving the state border:

  • The Morrow County ballot measure called for the county commission board to meet three times a year to “discuss promoting Morrow County’s interests regarding relocation of the state border.”
  • The Wheeler County ballot measure asked if the county should request state representatives and senators to “use taxpayer dollars towards moving the Idaho state border to include Wheeler County.”

As the U.S. Constitution gives only Congress and state legislators the power to move or change state borders, the legal results of local ballot initiatives will, by necessity, be small:

“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1

For Greater Idaho to become a reality, the state legislatures of both Oregon and Idaho would need to approve of the change, and that approval would then also need to be approved by Congress.

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Additionally, Idaho’s state constitution in Article XVII sets the name and boundaries of the state, which would need a state-wide vote to amend.

Idaho Deputy Attorney General Darrell Early stated in the below letter to Idaho Representative Judy Boyle that “any adjustment to the border would likely require an amendment to not only the Idaho Constitution but the Admission Bill as well.”

However, Citizens for Greater Idaho said a sentence earlier in the same letter, that “if Congress were to change Idaho’s boundaries in accordance with the law or an interstate compact, and Idaho does not update its constitution, the boundary as defined by Congress controls.” In other words, Congress could override the Idaho Constitution, leaving the state to sort out their amendment later.

[Article continues below Early letter]

So, while individual state legislators in both Idaho and Oregon have spoken in support of the change and introduced related bills, the Greater Idaho movement would need to win a majority of support in both states and nationally in Congress to become a reality.