As part of our fundamental mission, we encourage members and supporters to advocate for animal protection legislation and related matters by contacting elected officials. But we also count on you to stand up for animals by casting your ballot in elections at the federal, state, and local levels. We know, and we’ve tried to show you, that it really makes a difference when animal welfare is on the line.
Over the years, the humane movement has produced tremendous success for animals at the ballot box. Whether it involves electing humane candidates, defeating opposition proposals and gambits, or securing passage of ballot measures, we have the results to make the case. In 2018, for example, HSLF was part of the coalition that gained passage of two significant ballot measures, one for farm animals in California and another for greyhounds in Florida. In addition, we helped to elect some strongly supportive legislators to the Congress and to state legislatures across the country, an outcome that continues to produce benefits for animals every day.
These successes, like everything we seek to do in the public policy sector, came because good people voted with animals in mind, and supported candidates who had committed themselves to an animal protection agenda.
But to vote, of course, you have got to register.
That’s why the Humane Society Legislative Fund is a proud partner of National Voter Registration Day. Like the hundreds of other organizations supporting this event, we’re taking the time to urge members and supporters to update their voter registrations and to make sure that they have met the qualifications to vote in their communities. It’s a matter of being “vote ready”—and ready to make your voice heard in our democracy.
Proper registration is one of the greatest obstacles to voter qualification these days, but it’s one of the most easily resolved. If you have moved recently, haven’t voted in a while, changed your name, or are just turning 18, for example, you may not be vote ready, and you need to take action. You can do something about it right now, by using this simple tool to update your registration.
There are other things you can do to position yourself as an engaged and active voter. Be sure you know where your polling place is. Be aware of the candidates and issues that are on the ballot. Study and understand candidate positions to determine which ones are right for you—you can use our Humane Scorecard to see how your legislators have voted on animal welfare issues. This is a part of being “vote ready.”
And there’s something else. Our democracy works best when more citizens participate. To put it another way, we’re all better off when our elections reflect the views and values of everyone in our community. That’s one reason that we must work together to ensure that every eligible American is registered to vote.
Whether it concerns the future occupant of the White House or your local town hall, your active participation in elections is essential. Elected leaders at all levels are making decisions that affect the fate of animals, every day and everywhere, throughout this country. Protecting the Endangered Species Act, bringing the hammer down on puppy mills, and ensuring the passage of groundbreaking local, state, and federal legislation are almost wholly dependent on the projection of humane voices and humane values into our democratic process. That’s where you come in, and that’s why your commitment to voting is so important.
I have been working in this field for three decades, at all levels, and it is difficult to imagine a time when the stakes have been higher. Elections are decided by those who vote—and to vote you must first be registered. Be vote ready—update your voter registration here—and then ask your friends and others to register too. We’ve got lots of work ahead of us, and the strength of our voting power will translate into tangible gains for the animals we seek to defend and protect, now and in the future.