LA GRANDE — The latest petition from the group seeking to move Idaho’s border west to include a large part of Oregon gained approval in Union County.
Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel approved “Requires Commissioners Hold Meetings Regarding Relocation of State Borders” as a ballot title for the petition and Friday morning notified county Clerk Robin Church.
Church in March rejected the petition from Michael McCarter of La Pine seeking to create the new state of Greater Idaho using most of Oregon, including Union County. Church was among 11 county clerks who denied that petition, which demanded county boards of commissioners hold public meetings to discuss the idea of moving the border. That process was administrative rather than legislative, as the Oregon constitution requires.
McCarter said the new petition, however, asks counties to form a committee to find out what the public thinks about moving the Idaho border, and then have the group present its findings to county commissioners, who in turn would advise state and federal representatives and senators.
“If people are against it, at least they had the opportunity to voice their opinion,” McCarter said. “Give your opinion, folks.”
The Move Oregon’s Border group would reduce Oregon to only 17 counties, all on the state’s west side. The other 19 counties along with several in northern California would become part of the new state of Greater Idaho. McCarter said 12 of the 19 counties have approved the petition, with Jackson County on Thursday giving its OK.
“So that’s a big one,” McCarter said, because Jackson County’s population accounts for 25% of the total population for the 19 counties.
Church said Thursday her office received the newer petition on April 30, which she approved and forwarded May 8 to the district attorney for the ballot title. Now, Church explained, Union County has to publish legal notices about the ballot title for seven business days, including in The Observer, to allow any voter an opportunity to challenge the title. Church said that clock is likely to start ticking Tuesday.
If there is no challenge, she said, McCarter’s group can gather the 705 signatures in the county to get the proposal on a ballot. But just which election remains a question. Church said McCarter and company have not specified what election this would be in.
Going on the Nov. 3 ballot, Church said, would mean the group has a tight window to gather the signatures.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division, the signatures would be due Aug. 5 for verification.
But they have time to try for a later election. Oregon law grants two years for petitions at the county level to gather signatures after receiving the final approval to circulate the petition.