As election season heats up around the country, we will be publishing a series of articles on actions that dog clubs, owners and breeders can do to make a difference. In this first installment, we provide an overview of a variety of ways you can get involved.
Let’s face it – politics isn’t always the most popular topic. It tends to be confusing, intimidating, and for many people just plain boring. It’s something that a lot of us would prefer to ignore. This year, however, there are numerous elections that could impact our ability to own and breed dogs. A large number of seats in local, state, and federal offices will be up for grabs in both the primary and general elections. As responsible dog owners, exhibitors, and breeders, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as voters head to the polls to choose candidates and decide the fate of ballot measures that will significantly impact our rights.
Now is the time to make a difference by letting candidates know that dog issues and the right to responsibly own, breed, and exhibit dogs is a key issue in determining who will get your vote in November. Here are some things you can do. (Link to new page)
Register Yourself and Others to Vote –This is one of the most basic – and most important – things you can do to make a difference for canine legislation. Not only does it empower you with a voice in choosing candidates and deciding ballot measures, it also gives you more credibility with lawmakers. Lawmakers have access to voter registration information and can (and often do) check to see if you are registered when you contact their office.
If you have already registered to vote, make sure your fellow club members, breeders, exhibitors and colleagues are also registered. You may even want to consider hosting a voter registration drive at an upcoming dog show or other dog event. Most Secretary of State or County Recorder offices will be happy to give you registration forms free of charge that you can encourage exhibitors and attendees to fill out. For additional questions or suggestions on hosting a voter registration drive, you can contact the AKC Government Relations Department.
Contact your state’s election office to obtain a voter registration form and to find out if your state has “open” or “closed” primaries (meaning if those registered as Independents can vote in the primaries). Also be sure to inquire about the registration deadline for voting in your primary and general elections!
Find Out Your Election Dates…and Vote! – Contact your state’s election office to determine the election dates for your state. Check with your County Recorder’s office to see what local candidates and issues will be on your ballot, and if there are other special elections scheduled. Once you find out, be sure to take the time to actually vote!
Research Candidates and Ballot Measures – It is important to be an informed voter. Before you go to the polls, take the time to read the ballot measures that will be considered and determine if they will affect you as a dog owner or breeder in a positive or negative way.
Learn the candidates’ views on issues important to you. Visit AKC’s 2010 Legislation Tracking page to see all the state and federal canine legislation the AKC tracked this year and see how your legislators voted. Consider attending local town hall meetings or debates, or calling the campaign offices and asking questions about canine legislation. Let them know that these issues are important to you and will affect your voting decisions.
Sometimes it is also helpful to see which other well-known interest groups have endorsed candidates to see if they align with your views on canine legislative issues. Many organizations publish voting records and endorsements on their web sites. Check organizations that you agree with on canine legislation, as well as those with whom you don’t agree. In addition, many candidates publish endorsements on their campaign web pages.
Volunteer on Campaigns – Consider getting involved in candidate or ballot measure campaigns important to you. Let the candidate know why you support them and that canine legislation is important to you. Even if you don’t have much time, taking a few hours to stuff envelopes or put up signs is a great way for candidates to see that dog owners care about legislation and will support those who will protect our rights. Should the candidates be elected, knowing that you helped on the campaign is a wonderful way to establish a relationship when canine legislative issues arise.
Taking time now to participate in the political process could make a tremendous impact on your ability to continue to responsibly own, breed, and exhibit dogs in the future. If you have any questions about the elections or how you can get involved, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or email@example.com. Stay tuned to upcoming issues of Taking Command for more information on how you can take a stand for responsible dog ownership in the upcoming elections!
Next Month – How to educate club members and colleagues about candidates