During the midterm election on Nov. 8, there were several issues on local ballots across the country that drew national attention. Outlawing slavery, for instance, was on the ballot in five states.
Another topic on county ballots in several states: secession. Secession is defined as “the action of withdrawing formally from membership of a federation or body, especially a political state.”
One tweet said 51.26% of residents in San Bernardino County, California, voted in favor of seceding from the state. In Oregon, there is a push for several eastern counties to legally become part of “Greater Idaho.” And this tweet says: “Illinois votes to secede…from Illinois.”
Did counties in Oregon, California and Illinois vote to secede from their state?
No, counties in Oregon, California and Illinois did not vote to secede from their state. These measures called for local officials to explore ways to secede.
WHAT WE FOUND
Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution speaks directly to the topic of the creation of new states, and what rules need to be followed for secession to happen.
“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress,” the Constitution says.
According to the National Constitution Center, which provides interpretations of the Constitution, the clause grants the ability for new states to be “carved out of or formed from existing states only with consent of those existing states.”
That means if, say, counties in Oregon do decide they want to be part of Idaho, the governors in Oregon and Idaho must first agree. If approved by state legislatures, it would also need congressional approval at the federal level. None of this has happened.
Morrow County in Oregon is one county that has approved a ballot measure to discuss shifting the border, but that doesn’t automatically mean the county will become part of Idaho.
According to Greater Idaho, an organization that wants to move the Idaho border to include many counties currently in Oregon, the current Oregon/Idaho border that was established 163 years ago is “now outdated.”
“It makes no sense in its current location because it doesn’t match the location of the cultural divide in Oregon. The Oregon/Washington border was updated in 1958. It’s time to move other borders,” the Greater Idaho website says. “Areas that vote like Idaho does, and are economically healthy enough to be welcomed by Idaho are: eastern, southern, and most of central Oregon, southeastern Washington, and northeastern California.”
There are several phases to Greater Idaho’s plan to encompass those territories. Here is what Idaho would look like should the secession go forward:
In California, the tweet that claimed San Bernardino County voted to secede from the state with 51.26% of the votes wasn’t accurate. The “advisory vote measure,” known as County Measure EE, just allowed San Bernardino County supervisors to explore the possibility of secession.
An advisory vote is an “indication of general voter opinion regarding the ballot proposal,” according to a San Bernardino County interoffice memo.
In Illinois, 23 counties have passed “separation referendums” that would call for their local county officials to form advisory committees to discuss separation. One group leading the charge is Illinois Separation Referendum, which uses Facebook to encourage getting these referendums on the ballot.
Since the formation of the first state in 1787, only four states have been created by splitting an existing state – Kentucky, Maine, West Virginia and Vermont. West Virginia was established as a state during the Civil War when Virginia no longer considered itself as part of the union.
So, we can VERIFY while voters in several counties want their local officials to explore the idea of secession, they did not vote to actually secede from their states. Even if they did, they’d need approval from both the state and federal government.