▶️ OSU history expert says moving Oregon’s border will be ‘very difficult’


The “Move Oregon’s Border for Greater Idaho” movement’s website reads, “5 Oregon Counties Vote for becoming part of Idaho.”

The article is in reference to the five counties –Grant, Sherman, Malheur, Baker and Lake — that voted recently to continue the conversation about becoming a part of “Greater Idaho.”

But the headline needs a quick fact-check: the measures the counties approved in last weeks’ election don’t mean the counties will actually become a part of Idaho just yet.

In Grant County, Baker County, Lake County and Malheur County, the approved measures’ language only requires commissioners to meet and discuss interests in relocation.

Sherman County’s measure’s language is a bit different: the county is now responsible for “promoting moving Oregon-Idaho border.”

Dr. Steve Shay, a senior history instructor and an expert in western history Oregon State University, said — even if the counties do eventually approve the relocation — it will be very difficult for the merge with Idaho to actually happen.

“I think it would be very, very difficult to have it succeed,” Dr. Shay said. “Never say never, but very difficult.”

Shay said legislatures of both Oregon and Idaho along with the U.S. Congress would need to approve the border movement for the plan to be executed.

“The counties voting to leave or to agree, that doesn’t carry a lot of weight, because it is not the entity the constitution recognizes as the appropriate entity for making this change,” Dr. Shay said.

Will the states and Congress give the plan a go-ahead?

Shay said, if they do, it would lead to other areas around the U.S. asking for border relocation, which he sees as unlikely.

“I think the real trouble would come in with the Congress,” Shay said. “Because what it would do is open the floodgates to, let’s say Kansas City. Is Kansas City going to be in Missouri or is Kansas City going to be in Kansas? You might have situations where states would be actively bidding against one another.”

“That would not be the type of order and security the founders envisioned,” Dr. Shay added.

Jefferson County voters approved a measure in 2020 mandating two meetings a year to discuss joining Idaho.

The first meeting took place in February.

The second is scheduled for August.


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