Did Some Oregon Counties Vote To Secede Into Idaho?

The "Greater Idaho" campaign has won a succession of electoral tests, but still faces an uphill battle.

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Claim

In May 2021, voters in five Oregon counties passed ballot measures to advance a plan to secede from the state and become part of Idaho.

Origin

In May 2021, news outlets reported that a handful of counties in rural Oregon had voted in favor of moving towards seceding from the state and joining Idaho. For example, on May 19, The Hill published an article with the headline “Oregon counties vote to secede to Idaho,” which stated that:

Voters in five rural Oregon counties approved measures on Tuesday to consider joining the state of Idaho, a part of a long-shot grassroots movement to break with a state dominated by liberal voters west of the Cascade Mountains.

Voters in Malheur, Sherman, Grant, Baker and Lake counties all approved measures that would require county officials to take steps to promote moving the Idaho border west to incorporate their populations. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that:

The Move Oregon’s Borders for a Greater Idaho proposal would have Idaho take over about three-quarters of Oregon’s land. Conservative supporters say Oregon is dominated by politically liberal urban areas, and they would rather join Idaho, which they say is more in line with their values. For the plan to succeed, the Oregon and Idaho legislatures and the U.S. Congress would need to sign off.

Those reports were accurate. In elections held on May 18, 2021, a majority of voters in five Oregon counties did indeed vote in favor of advancing a broader project of seceding from the state and joining Idaho.

“Greater Idaho”

The votes that took place in May 2021 were the latest development in a broader, ongoing campaign to reconfigure the borders of Oregon and California in order to integrate majority-conservative counties from those states into Idaho. 

In November 2020, two other Oregon counties — Jefferson and Union — also voted in favor of the move, meaning a total of seven of the state’s 36 counties had advanced the re-drawing of borders, as of May 2021.

The results of the votes that took place on May 18 can be found on the website of the Oregon Secretary of State, and are listed below, along with the wording of the ballot questions:

  • Grant County. “Are you in favor of requiring the Grant County Court to meet and discuss relocating into the State of Idaho?” YES: 1,471 (62%) / NO: 895 (38%)
  • Lake County. Requiring the Board of Commissioners to meet three times each year to discuss the secession proposals. YES: 1,510 (75%) / NO: 513 (25%)
  • Malheur County. “Shall the County Court meet three times annually to discuss promoting Malheur County’s interests regarding relocation of the Oregon-Idaho border?” YES: 3,050 (54%) / NO: 2,572 (46%)
  • Sherman County. “Shall Sherman County be responsible for promoting moving Oregon-Idaho border to make Sherman County, Oregon a territory of Idaho?” YES: 429 (62%) / NO: 260 (38%)
  • Baker County. “Shall Commissioners meet three times annually to discuss promoting Baker County interests regarding relocating Idaho borders to include Baker County?” YES: 3,336 (57%)  / NO: 2,469 (43%).