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Greater Idaho wins Wallowa County

Greater Idaho declared victory in its Wallowa County referendum on interstate secession, with 50.3 percent of the ballots now received.

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Greater Idaho counter-demonstration in front of Wallow County Courthouse, Enterprise, Oregon, May 15, 2023.

The Greater Idaho Movement declared victory in yesterday’s referendum in Wallowa County, Oregon, on a question of joining Idaho. This morning, the CBS affiliate in Boise, Idaho, “called” the referendum in Greater Idaho’s favor.

Greater Idaho squeaks through

Station KBOI-TV (Channel 2, CBS, Boise, Idaho) called the referendum in Wallowa County, Oregon, at 7:20 a.m. MDT.

Greater Idaho declared victory in that referendum about three hours earlier – though they waited another hour to post to Twitter.

With all precincts reporting, Greater Idaho reported turnout of 55 percent, more than twice the State-wide average for Oregon elections. The organization plumping for interstate secession for Oregon east of the Cascades acknowledged they had 50.3 percent of the vote by 4:00 a.m. MDT. But they expressed full confidence in eventual victory, though the results will likely not be final until week’s end. In Oregon, county clerks of election may accept mail-in ballots after Election Day, so long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day. In their victory statement, the organization said they usually win by one to three percentage points more than the election night total.

Wallowa County agreed to have a vote back in January, and put the question onto the May 16 ballot.

As of Midterms 2022, Greater Idaho had won eleven other counties in Oregon East of the Cascades. Furthermore, the Idaho House of Representatives adopted a “Memorial” to begin talks with Oregon concerning a territorial transfer. This is as close to a formal invitation as a State legislature can extend to any region wishing to join. (A similar “Memorial” is pending in the Oregon Senate but has stalled. In addition, the Idaho Senate failed to act on Idaho’s “Memorial” before adjournment.)

Political intrigue and campaign finance violations

Greater Idaho continues to urge all Oregon residents – everywhere – to support the proposed territorial transfer. In the last six years, the organization reports achieving an average victory margin of 62 percent in referenda like yesterday’s. They listed two major reasons why their Wallowa County referendum won by such a slim margin. First, Wallowa County has only two percent of eastern Oregon residents. Several upper-income residents of the Willamette Valley have second homes or favorite vacation spots in Wallowa County. Those people vote in Wallowa County elections and tend to vote against interstate secession. (How they personally would lose once their favorite mountain views were part of Idaho rather than Oregon, is not clear.)

But Greater Idaho admitted also that Wallowa County residents might be susceptible to scare talk about “far-right individuals and groups.” Several Democratic politicians in Portland apparently organized a mailing and advertising campaign to foment the scare. (Because they neglected to report their spending to the Oregon Division of Elections, Greater Idaho has complained.)

Among other things, the opposition campaign said that far-right individuals and groups were the major impetus behind Greater Idaho. They also suggested interstate secession would cost eastern Oregonians money. But an independent economic analysis suggests Oregon now subsidizes its eastern counties. On the other hand, Idaho would allow the region to develop more than Oregon has allowed. It would also enforce Idaho drug law, thus removing a vexing problem for some western Idaho counties.

Political effects

On the afternoon of the referendum, Greater Idaho called attention to a tactic that several eastern Oregon legislators are now using to apply pressure of their own. They have absented themselves from the proceedings in their respective houses, thus creating the absence of a quorum. When their chambers expel them for excess unexcused absences, they simply switch chambers and go through the cycle again. The organization appeared to give their explicit endorsement to this tactic, and to suggest that all Oregon need do is accede to the transfer. Oregon’s Democratic majorities could then pass whatever laws they wanted with no further impediment.

They have in fact said this before:

They also have sent out alerts to members to show up at “town halls” and raise the interstate secession issue. For example:

One thing making matters urgent is that Oregon has yet to pass a budget. This, say commentators, is due entirely to the absenteeism.

(The image is of the Wallowa County Courthouse, Enterprise, Oregon, showing a Greater Idaho counter-protest to a “Can’t Afford Idaho” protest earlier. Greater Idaho reports twice the attendance at their rally as at the opposition’s rally. Photo courtesy Greater Idaho, which releases it to all journalists.)

Update: Greater Idaho still confident

On Thursday afternoon, Greater Idaho continued to express confidence of victory. Here are the second and fourth tweets in their thread:

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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