EUGENE, Ore. — A group pushing to have eastern and southern Oregon join the state of Idaho has filed a federal lawsuit to lower the number of signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Oregon counties.
Chief petitioners for Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho said that they filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on June 30, immediately filing a motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.
Credit: 'Move Oregon's Border for a Greater Idaho' / Facebook
The group said that it filed the lawsuit "in light of the COVID-19 situation" to reduce the number of signatures needed in rural Oregon counties.
A hearing is scheduled for July 20 before Judge Michael McShane in Eugene. According to the group, Judge McShane granted relief in a "similar case" for a statewide ballot initiative, People Not Politicians, which would create a bipartisan redistricting commission in Oregon in an effort to prevent gerrymandering.
Judge McShane granted the People Not Politicians request, delaying the signature deadline from July 2 to August 17, and reducing the needed number of signatures from roughly 150,000 to 59,000 — a number that the petitioners reportedly had already surpassed.
Unlike the redistricting initiative, Greater Idaho is not a statewide ballot measure, but a collection of county-level measures.
"In some counties, Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho has not made as much progress as People Not Politicians toward their signature requirements," the group said in a statement. "It’s unclear how much more relief Judge McShane would be willing to give to Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho. They said their progress in signature collection varies widely from one county to the next."
The Greater Idaho petitioners cited an Illinois case where required signatures were reduced to 10 percent of those normally required, but admitted that this case was an exception and not the rule.
Currently, the deadline for county initiative signatures is set for August 5.
Greater Idaho president Mike McCarter highlighted the selling points for the movement as dissatisfaction with Governor Kate Brown and lower taxes in Idaho.
"Combining all taxes together, the average Idahoan paid $1753 less in taxes per year than the average Oregonian in 2018," McCarter said. "And cost of living is 39 percent higher in Oregon than in Idaho.”