Monday, August 31, 2020

By Brad Pyle

The problems at the United States Postal Service have already had dire consequences for animals, and now they risk doing the same to the upcoming election. President Trump and the U.S. Congress must act to ensure that the postal system is operating at full capacity and with competency before the General Election to ensure the integrity of the outcome. 

There’s cruel irony for us in the recent news reports highlighting the thousands of baby chicks arriving dead to farmers across the United States. Alligators, turkeys, bees, and a multitude of other species are also shipped through the USPS, and there is no doubt that animals are suffering as a result of unnecessary delays, disorganization and the political controversy that has now beset the agency. 

We have spent a lot of our time in recent weeks in efforts to encourage voter registration in anticipation of the November election. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing most states to increase citizens’ access to voting by mail, it’s simple. The 2020 Election depends on a functioning postal system. What we have just now is complete chaos. The removal of sorting machines, the reduction of overtime hours, and extensive confusion over mailing deadlines have all contributed to this problem. The USPS has even warned the states that mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted. We cannot let that happen.

We at the HSLF know that for animals to win in our democracy our voting process must be fair and open to all, and it must have the confidence of the public. A strong, robust democracy in which every American can make their voices heard benefits our nation and all its citizens. It’s also good for animals, who rely on our protection and whose interests we have continuously sought to integrate into public policy at all levels. Every year we encourage voters to support our endorsed humane candidates for office, to help us push for the passage of legislation and the adoption of animal-friendly regulations and rules, to vote for humane ballot measures, and more. If our voices are silenced, so is our cause. 

If we want lasting and meaningful progress for animals, we need fair and safe elections, and we need to make sure that every animal-friendly vote gets cast and counted. Millions of Americans, of all political persuasions, share our goal of protecting animals from cruelty, suffering and abuse, and they want to exercise their rights as voters. Any obstacles to efficient, timely and lawful voting is not good for our cause. And it’s certainly not good for American politics and society. Voting is a right for which countless Americans have struggled and died over nearly 250 years of nationhood. For that and other reasons, we have a burden of responsibility to sustain the institutions that make it possible in good times and bad, and that certainly includes the Post Office.

To elect humane candidates, every humane voter must have the opportunity to cast their vote in the upcoming election, by mail or in person. We’re very supportive of mail-in balloting in the current context, one of pandemic risk that has already claimed 180,000 American lives. And for mail balloting to work, we need effective governance and sound practices at all agencies that might be involved, including the USPS. The mission of the Humane Society Legislative Fund is to give animals voice and presence in our electoral process, and that means ensuring humane voters know with certainty that their voices will be heard. For the animals’ sake, and for our own, we are working tirelessly to ensure this, and every election is a fair one – and that humane voters can participate to the fullest.

Brad Pyle is political director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.