Harney County voters on Tuesday showed their love for Idaho.
Ballot measure 13-18, which requires local officials to hold meetings about moving the small rural Oregon county into Idaho, passed with more than 63% of the vote. The unofficial results: 1,567 for and 917 against.
Harney became the eighth of Oregon’s 36 counties to vote for considering adjusting Oregon’s border to put much of rural Eastern and Southern Oregon in Idaho.
“Rural Oregon is declaring as loudly as it can that it does not consent to being misgoverned by Oregon’s leadership and chooses to be governed as part of a state that understands rural Oregon’s values and way of making a living,” said Mike McCarter, who heads Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, which is behind the initiatives.
Despite such strong rhetoric, McCarter has said his movement is an effort to make everyone — urban liberals who’d remain in Oregon and rural conservatives who’d leave — happier, calling Move Oregon’s Border a “peaceful revolution.”
“It’s a lifestyle/values judgment between urban and rural more than anything else,” he told The Oregonian.
These ballot initiatives are nonbinding; the point of them, McCarter says, is to force Idaho’s and Oregon’s legislatures to take up the issue, which is highly unlikely. If Idaho and Oregon were to negotiate a border adjustment, the U.S. Congress would have to sign off on it.
The other counties that have voted for a Move Oregon’s Border-backed initiative in the last two years: Baker, Grant, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Sherman and Union. Two small counties have voted against the border-moving idea.
Douglas and Klamath counties likely will be next to vote; McCarter says his group has enough signatures to put the border-adjustment question before their voters next May.