PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The number of votes needed to tip Wallowa County’s “Greater Idaho” measure can now be counted on one hand.
Initially given a double-digit lead on election night, Ballot Measure 32-007’s margin of victory has slowly dwindled in the last week from 21 to 12, then to seven to five. With 3,489 votes counted, May 22’s latest results show that the measure leads with 50.07% of the vote.
If passed, the measure would require Wallowa County commissioners to join 11 other Eastern Oregon counties in the discussion of extending Idaho’s border west, which if approved on multiple levels, would allow Idaho to consume much of Eastern Oregon. Wallowa County Election Clerk Sandy Lathrop told KOIN 6 News that the election is one of the closest in recent memory.
“I can’t remember a time when a ballot measure was this close,” Lathrop said.
A local group opposing the “Greater Idaho” movement, Rural Oregonians for Oregon, said that the extremely close election proves that Wallowa County has a diverse set of beliefs.
“There is no victory to declare today,” Rural Oregonians for Oregon told KOIN 6 News. “This clearly remains a polarizing issue in Wallowa County. Our fervent wish would be that the supporters of the [Greater Idaho] movement respect the diversity of thought that exists in Wallowa County. Perhaps they will come to realize that there are more interests and beliefs that connect us all rather than separate us.”
Despite the ever-shrinking lead, the “Greater Idaho” movement maintains that victory is still likely in Oregon’s most northwestern county.
“We believe that this result will hold because there’s very little mail left to count,” representatives of the “Greater Idaho” Movement said. “Wallowa County has only 2% of the population of Eastern Oregon that we propose should join Idaho. In eastern Oregon, Greater Idaho ballot measures have averaged 60% in favor since the first election, including this election result. The bottom line is that Eastern Oregon wants Western Oregon to consider the fiscal benefits of moving the state line, the reduction in legislative gridlock, and the right of self-determination.”
Lathrop said that May 23 is the deadline for Oregon’s postmark rule. Voters with challenged ballots will have one more week to resolve any issues before a final vote can be calculated.
Despite the sweeping movement among rural Oregon voters, it remains unclear how the proposed border change would actually occur.