By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
In the U.S., today is National Voter Registration Day, which is a chance to recognize and celebrate the potential of our collective role and influence as voters. Now more than ever, our nation needs compassionate, courageous legislators to act in support of animals and to defend against the many threats to their welfare. And it also needs engaged voters with a humane instinct—because elections are decided by those who vote.
Humane advocates who vote stand at the heart of our mission to end animal suffering. The interests that profit from the mistreatment and exploitation of animals operate largely without restraint and regulation, and low voter turnout is great for them. When we decide that we’re too busy or too weary to exercise our fundamental voting rights, it directly benefits those determined to preserve the status quo.
We really count on humane voters in our work, and we can attest firsthand to the value and impact of your civic engagement as a supporter. If you have moved recently, haven’t voted in a while, have changed your name, or are just turning 18, you may not be “vote ready.” This is something you can learn now, and fix quickly, before the time comes to cast your vote. Along with the hundreds of other organizations supporting National Voter Registration Day, we encourage you to use this simple tool to review and update your registration.
There is not an elected official at any level of government without the power to influence the course of animal protection. Currently-serving legislators and other candidates for office can advance our fight to curb the worst abuses at puppy mills; to defend the Endangered Species Act; and to help the animals used in research, testing and education, among other concerns.
Right now, we also need voters as part of the coalition standing with us against enactment of the EATS Act or anything like it, to protect the democratic authority of states to enact their own standards in the production and sale of agricultural products. This fight has tremendous relevance for animal protection, food safety, and public health and disease concerns.
This need for a mobilized base of voters doesn’t ever fade. This November, for example, state legislative elections will take place in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, and a multitude of municipal elections will happen across the country. Every election has profound impacts on the prospects for advancing animal welfare, through the potential for groundbreaking local, state and federal policymaking.
We encourage you to embrace your power as a voter, by taking the time to evaluate candidates running for office, as well as any ballot measures.
There are momentous fights for animals ahead, and we need everyone to take part. Celebrate National Voter Registration Day with us today by updating your voter registration—and then asking your friends, family, and others to make sure they’re “vote ready,” too. Animals only win when “humane candidates” do, and by working together to ensure that those elected to office are sensitive to animal protection concerns, we can deliver the positive outcomes we seek.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.