Supporters of our work should know that the entire Humane Society Legislative Fund staff has transitioned to remote work. We’re working hard to call attention to the needs of local humane societies and other animal service agencies, and to make federal legislators mindful of the critical role these entities play. And we’re also continuing to advance our regular mission of giving animals the best possible representation in the nation’s capital.
Working from home, with companion animals at our side, my colleagues and I are as mindful as ever of what’s at stake for animals, not just in the immediate crisis but even a little further down the road. In just several weeks, COVID-19 has reshaped our social, economic, and political lives. And it promises to do the same for our elections too.
Already, the impacts of the coronavirus on America’s campaign season have been startling and dramatic. Several states have rescheduled their primaries, candidates now conduct their debates without in-person audiences, campaigns are canceling rallies, virtual town halls are the norm, and we’re witnessing fundamental changes to the structure and practices of voter engagement. COVID-19 is testing the very strength and resilience of the democratic process in the United States. And in the weeks ahead we will be monitoring any congressional efforts to further safeguard our ability to vote—and ensure the safety of our elections.
Elections have special importance for those of us who care about animals, because it’s the way in which we can directly shape the future for animal protection. Animals can’t vote, and we can, and we can change their circumstances by electing those who share our humane values. It’s just that simple, and just that important.
During this most uncertain of times, we at HSLF are as committed as ever to our mission of helping animals. At the same time, we want to ensure that the voice of every voter who wants to do the same will have his or her voice heard in our elections as well as in the broader political discourse. For that reason, we want to share a few suggestions about how voters can navigate an election season engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The status of scheduled state and federal primary elections is one of the most confusing and unsettled issues. The good news is that our friends at vote.org have set up a resource with up-to-date election information for every state at vote.org/covid-19.
As an individual voter, you should also consider the following steps:
- Many jurisdictions allow voters to vote by mail with an absentee ballot. If your state allows it, you can request an absentee ballot and vote from home.
- If you are obliged to vote in person, please follow CDC recommendations, take your own pen to use at the polling facility, and carry a bottle of hand sanitizer.
- Many states are facing shortages of poll workers as a result of the pandemic. If you are healthy, consider volunteering for this critical role. Contact your local election officials to learn more of what that entails.
- Take the time to research your choices in advance. You can check our election site and Humane Scorecard to read about the candidates we believe will do good things for animals.
Voting by mail is not a new concept in the United States, and the number of voters who vote by mail is significant and growing rapidly. Some states, including Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington, already conduct all of their voting by mail. Absentee ballots allow you to thoughtfully review your choices, research your candidates, and avoid crowds and lines. That’s why we’re so enthusiastic about this option.
If you’re a supporter of HSLF, you know that your investment makes all the difference. It means that we’re working hard in the nation’s capital every day, making the case for animals in Congress and with the agencies of our federal government. And it means that you play a crucial part in any success we achieve not merely by contributing your funds but by contacting legislators and government administrators on your own.
That’s worth repeating. We ask our supporters not only to back our lobbying efforts and ongoing campaigns, but to increase their personal engagement as citizen advocates, and, importantly, to make their votes count for animals.
That kind of engagement is always important but in a certain way, it matters now more than ever. Please remember to update your voter registration, request an absentee ballot if your state allows, and take other steps to ensure that your voice is heard in our democracy.
You'll hear more from us about elections throughout the year, so do keep checking the blog for additional updates and information. We’ll also keep you apprised of our efforts in relation to COVID-19’s effects on animal protection and the humane sector. For now, please rest assured, we’ll be giving it our best in the nation’s capital and elsewhere when it comes to positive public policy outcomes for animals.