Handful of Oregon counties vote to consider move into Idaho

Idaho

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Five eastern Oregon counties voted Tuesday in support of considering becoming part of Idaho.

Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman counties join Union and Jefferson, which voted last year to require county officials to study or promote joining Idaho, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The grassroots group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho wants to move Oregon’s mostly rural eastern and southern counties — and a few northern California counties — into Idaho, believing they’d be better served in Idaho’s more conservative political environment.

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The group hopes political pressure from county initiative votes will lead to negotiations between Oregon and Idaho to move the border, putting up to 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties in Idaho.

The chances of those counties joining Idaho are slim. The Idaho Legislature would have to approve the plan that would expand Idaho’s southwestern border to the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Legislature and the U.S. Congress would also have to sign off.

Supporters of the idea said rural Oregon voters are dominated by liberal urban areas such as Portland, and would rather join conservative Idaho. Portland would remain with Oregon.

“There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon between northwest Oregon and rural Oregon, and it’s getting larger,” Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, told Idaho lawmakers.

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