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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cast A Humane Vote This Election Day

We are just six days away from what is shaping up to be one of the most historic elections in our lifetime. While voters are weighing the economy and other pressing national concerns, advocates of animal protection also need to know which lawmakers and candidates are standing up for their interests. When you fill out your mail ballot or go to the polls on Tuesday, the Humane Society Legislative Fund wants you to be armed with information on the candidates who are fighting for animal welfare in a very determined way.

Hslf_button In our comprehensive Humane Voter Guide, you can find a list of the HSLF-backed candidates in your state. After examining the animal protection records of lawmakers seeking reelection, and querying candidates running as challengers or in open seats, HSLF has made endorsements in more than 300 congressional contests. We are a nonpartisan organization and don’t make judgments based on party affiliation, but rather on a candidate’s actions and positions on animal protection policies.

In order to pass humane laws, we need to elect humane lawmakers. You can help advance the cause of animal protection by voting for candidates who are friends of animals—even if you have to cross party lines to do so. Only when the will of the millions of Americans who care about animals are mobilized can we hope to effect sweeping reforms for animals. As we approach Election Day, here are some of the races to watch that have implications for animals:

Top of the Ticket: The next president and vice president will have an enormous impact on animal protection, through the Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, and other executive agencies. HSLF has endorsed Barack Obama and Joe Biden, as both senators have strong records on advocating for the humane treatment of animals. John McCain has been a lukewarm supporter and only scored 25 percent on the most recent Humane Scorecard, while Sarah Palin has a frighteningly terrible record on killing wolves, bears, and other wildlife, and the thought of a Palin administration should strike fear in the heart of every animal advocate in the country.

Motor City Madness: The Oakland County suburbs of Michigan's 9th District are ground zero for animal protection in 2008. Sixteen-year incumbent Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) has one of the worst records on animal cruelty in the entire Congress—he voted to allow the slaughter of American horses for human consumption, to continue the abuse of sick and crippled cattle to get them into the food supply, to facilitate the trophy hunting of threatened polar bears in the Arctic, and even to de-fund the enforcement of the federal law to combat dogfighting and cockfighting. The Democratic challenger, Gary Peters, was a leader in protecting animals from cruelty and abuse when he served in the Michigan Senate. HSLF is airing TV ads in the Detroit area and volunteers are canvassing door-to-door in the 9th District letting voters know about Rep. Knollenberg’s long and embarrassing record on animal cruelty.

Humane Heroes: Several congressional leaders on animal protection legislation are facing tough reelection campaigns, and HSLF is working to help keep these animal advocates in office. In the U.S. Senate, we’ve endorsed incumbent Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and others. In the U.S. House, some of our strongest leaders like Reps. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), and Chris Shays (R-Conn.) are in competitive races. We are also backing several animal-friendly challengers who are looking to unseat incumbent lawmakers, such as Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in the Senate, and Kay Barnes (D-Mo.), Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), and Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) in the House. And there are great candidates running in open seats, such as Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for Senate, and Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) for the House.

Prop2pig Don’t Forget the Ballot Measures: In several states, it’s not just candidate races that will have an impact for animal protection, but voters will also have the opportunity to weigh in directly on issues that affect animals. We urge Californians to vote YES on Prop 2 to stop cruelty to farm animals, and Massachusetts residents to vote YES on Question 3 to phase out dog racing. Arizonans should say NO on Prop 105 which would essentially eliminate the right to vote on animal issues in future elections, and Oklahomans should vote NO on State Question 742 which would have a similar impact on wildlife protection measures. Oregonians should vote NO on Measure 64 which would harm nonprofit organizations such as the Oregon Humane Society.

Some voters and newspaper editorial writers complain about ballot measures because they are complex and difficult to understand, but when it comes to the animal issues, it’s just plain common sense. Even a 4-year-old knows what’s right and wrong. As you get ready for election week, here’s your daily dose of cute overload—you can see why Mia is crazy about animals and urges you to vote YES on Prop 2!

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