On a day when our divisions have been lain bare by the results of the presidential election – where the two candidates evenly split the popular vote in a race characterized by extreme bitterness – we again demonstrated that promoting protections for animals is a cause that can unite our nation. In the three major ballot campaigns in which The HSUS and the Humane Society Legislative Fund invested time and energy, we won all three races by overwhelming margins.
In Massachusetts, voters approved Question 3 by an astonishing “yes” vote of 78 to 22 percent. It is the fourth anti-factory farming ballot measure we’ve waged, and, with each one, we’ve increased our margin of victory as well as the actual reach of the measure. The first anti-confinement ballot measure came in 2002 in Florida where we banned gestation crates with a very comfortable 55 percent majority. In 2006, we pushed an Arizona measure to ban gestation crates and veal crates, and won in a landslide with 62 percent. Two years later, in a high-water mark for our cause, we helped shepherd Prop 2 to passage in California, winning 63.5 percent of the vote, on a measure to ban extreme confinement of laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves. The Massachusetts measure, which eclipsed our Prop 2 margin by more than 13 points, not only stops extreme confinement of those species, but applies the same standard of animal welfare to the sale of eggs, pork, or veal, no matter where they are produced.
In Oregon, we won another smashing ballot measure against wildlife trafficking, getting 70 percent of voters to favor a measure to restrict the intrastate trade in ivory, rhino horn, and the parts of 10 other species and taxa. Oregon voters replicated what Washington state voters did a year ago on the ballot, with a similarly high margin of the vote. This is part of our state, national, and international effort to combat wildlife trafficking. We worked with the Obama Administration on regulatory changes, including tighter restrictions on imports, exports, and interstate sales of ivory. We’ve also passed state bans in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.
In Oklahoma, we crushed State Question 777, despite a multi-million-dollar campaign by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Pork Producers Council, and other animal agriculture commodity groups. Their measure, referred to the ballot with the vast majority of state lawmakers favoring it, sought to amend the state constitution to bar future limitations on the conduct of agriculture in Oklahoma, unless there was “a compelling state interest.” Political observers didn’t give us much of a chance to prevail, but we secured a huge margin of victory, defeating it with a 60.3 percent “no” vote. We ran up the score in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, but we also won in suburban and rural counties throughout the state. We worked to assemble a great coalition that included the Five Civilized Tribes, Save the Illinois River, the League of Women Voters, and so many others. We welcomed family farmers, local governments, and key politicians into our campaign, including the three prior governors – Republican Frank Keating and Democrats Brad Henry and David Walters. It was the second time we stopped the Farm Bureau from trying to erode the rights of Oklahoma voters. Twelve years ago, on the same ballot that we overcame their opposition and outlawed cockfighting, we defeated a constitutional amendment that would have essentially prevented any animal welfare reform from appearing on a statewide ballot. We take great hope from the fact that Oklahoma’s citizens saw through this measure.
We also endorsed a successful ballot measure in California to affirm a state ban on the sale of plastic bags – a measure we supported because so many ocean creatures die from ingesting this everlasting debris. The measure, Prop 67, passed 52-48, and a competing measure, Prop 65, failed 55-45, ensuring that the plastic bag ban passed by the legislature and signed by the governor stands.
On the downside, voters in Colorado approved a constitutional amendment to make it virtually impossible for a citizen group to qualify or pass any ballot initiative in that state, and Montana voters rejected a ballot measure to restrict trapping on its public lands. While we endorsed the pro-animal position, we didn’t conduct any meaningful spending, since we were fully occupied with the Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Oregon measures.
I am immensely grateful to our staff, members, volunteers, and voters who carried us to victory in key states last night. We materially advanced animal protection, and prevented an erosion of our rights to drive reform in the future. No matter how you feel about the broader election results, there’s reason to celebrate these vital outcomes for animals.