County Commissioners Can Put Advisory Questions on County Ballots

Gilliam County residents: if you’d like to see Greater Idaho on your ballot, contact your county commissioners. Ask them to put an advisory question on the May 2025 ballot to give voters a voice on whether the border should be moved. We already have a county voting in 2024, and we’re running out of counties that haven’t voted on this, so we want to save Gilliam for May 2025 to make a big impact on the next long session of the Oregon Legislature.

You can show up at one of their meetings, and speak during the public comment period. Bring a bunch of County citizens with you or have them call your commissioners.

You can find the meeting info and the names, phones, and email addresses of your county commissioners here.

Your commissioners can follow this guide:

The form below is a suggested model that your county clerk could use if your county commissioners vote to refer the advisory question onto the ballot.

Below is a model letter you could use to write to your county commissioners.  Let us know how they respond.

I vote in this county and I’m writing today to ask you to refer a non-binding advisory question about Greater Idaho to the county ballot.

The Crook County Court voted to place a non-binding question about the Greater Idaho proposal on the county’s May 2024
ballot. The question is “Should Crook County represent that its citizens support efforts to move the Idaho state border to include Crook County?”  The ballot summary states “The Crook County Court has placed this advisory question on the ballot to determine voter attitudes of whether your Crook County elected officials should inform state and federal officials that the people of Crook County support continued negotiations regarding a potential relocation of the Oregon-Idaho border to include Crook County.” The question is similar to questions approved by Wheeler County and Sherman County voters.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners referred such a question onto the November 2020 ballot.  The question that the Douglas County Commissioners wrote is “Should Douglas County commissioners, state representatives and senators work toward moving the Idaho state border to include Douglas County?” The Board of Commissioners of Josephine County referred this advisory question to the May 2022 ballot: “In your opinion, should Josephine County, along with other rural counties, separate from Oregon and become part of Idaho?”

A County Board can refer an advisory question onto the ballot as an act of the County Board, without gathering signatures.

I am not asking you to take a position on this issue; I am only asking that you let our county vote on it. Let the people decide which state government is more suited to their county’s economy and values.  Rural Oregon counties’ concerns are trampled on in Salem. Let them have a voice on this issue.

To read the full proposal to make rural Oregon a part of Idaho, visit:

I am very concerned by the report by Jackson County commissioners that Kate is only sharing federal COVID-19 money with the Portland area.

Move Oregon’s Border wrote: “Mike McCarter explained the greater Idaho concept in person to Lake County commissioners in February. The commissioners were concerned about the financial impact of switching states. So I did a study that showed that Idaho counties similar to Lake County got more money per person from their state government than Lake County did, even though in 2018 the average Idahoan paid $1722 less taxes than the average Oregonian (that’s for every adult or child, employed, retired or unemployed, and that was before Gov. Brown hiked taxes even higher).”

Can you assure me that you will bring this to the County Board for a vote, and you will vote yes?

Many years ago, the Oregon Constitution was amended to give some limited legislative power to the people of a county to force county governments to place an ordinance on their ballot if certain requirements are met.  This amendment adds power to the people, but it doesn’t diminish the county government’s authority. The longstanding guidance of the Attorney General of Oregon is that all Oregon counties have the authority to refer non-binding advisory questions to county ballots, as explained on page 85/89 of this document on Oregon’s website:

Now we are asking the Board to use its power to refer a non-binding advisory question to the ballot, just as the Douglas County commissioners did in August, 2020 for the November 2020 election.  It has nothing to do with requiring meetings. It’s just a way to ask the voters if they want their County to be one of the counties covered by negotiations between the two states regarding moving the border between states. How else would the state be able to know if County voters want the County to be included in the move? 

The state government created this manual that County Courts can use to refer questions (or ordinances, or bonds) to the ballot:  Notice that on page 14, it says that districts do not have the authority to place advisory questions on the ballot, but it doesn’t say that about COUNTIES.  A review of recent elections shows that there are a couple advisory questions at every election somewhere in the state.