The Oregon residents who want to move Idaho’s border don’t want the coronavirus to get in the way of their plans.
“Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho,” a group of residents in southwestern Oregon who created petitions to move Idaho’s border west to include part of their state, told McClatchy News on Monday that their president filed a federal lawsuit.
“Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho announced July 13 that their president had filed a federal lawsuit, in light of the COVID-19 situation, hoping for a reduction of the number of signatures required to get their ballot initiatives on ballots in rural Oregon counties,” President Mike McCarter said in an email statement to McClatchy News. “Their ballot initiatives are related to moving the Oregon/Idaho border to make rural Oregon a part of Idaho.”
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court at the end of June, McCarter said. A hearing is scheduled for July 20, and the deadline for signatures in Oregon county measures is Aug. 5, he said.
“Their case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Eugene, who recently granted relief to a group called People Not Politicians in a case that is similar, except that it regards a statewide ballot initiative,” McCarter said. “Judge McShane granted the request of People Not Politicians that their deadline be delayed from July 2 to August 17, and the number of valid signatures required statewide be reduced from nearly 150,000 to 59,000.”
The group hasn’t made as much progress as People Not Politicians had made toward its signature requirement, McCarter said.
“It’s unclear how much more relief Judge McShane would be willing to give to Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho,” McCarter said. “They said their progress in signature collection varies widely from one county to the next.”
Move Oregon’s Border first got attention in February when the group began its complicated, multi-step process that requires local ballot measures and state and federal approval. The group hopes to eventually consume all but 14 of Oregon’s 36 counties, McClatchy News reported.
“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” McCarter, one of the chief petitioners, said in a news release. “We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored. This is our last resort.”
Even if county voters like the idea of being part of Idaho, both of the states’ legislatures and the U.S. Congress would need to approve the change, McClatchy News reported.
If the initial movement is successful, the Greater Idaho project would like to bring parts of Northern California into Idaho, according to the news release.
“People here would prefer Idaho’s conservative governance to the progressive/liberal current Oregon governance,” Valerie Gottschalk, another chief petitioner, said in a news release. “Every time I look at … Greater Idaho, the group has gotten bigger.”
Republican Gov. Brad Little said the movement isn’t surprising. Little appeared on Fox News in February to talk about how the group wants to become part of his state.
“They’re looking at Idaho fondly because of our regulatory atmosphere, our values,” Little said on “Fox & Friends.” “That doesn’t surprise me one bit.”