Leading Small Business Organizations Join Rep. James E. Clyburn in a Call to Protect Voting Rights
Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council host a special event to highlight the importance of democracy in entrepreneurship
Small business owners and community organizations participated in a special event with House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn on September 8, 2021, to push back against the laws suppressing Americans' voting rights across the country.
Representatives from Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, American Sustainable Business Council, and leading experts in voting rights laws and the legislative process engaged in a discussion on why voting rights are essential to democracy and entrepreneurship.
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of democracy and the foundation upon which all other rights are built,” said Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, U.S. House of Representatives. “My mother was a small business owner. I understand how critical small businesses and entrepreneurs are to our nation’s economy. I applaud the support of small business owners in the fight to protect access to the ballot to ensure that voting remains a fundamental right of every American citizen and the touchstone of the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Nothing else will matter if we lose the right to vote.”
“Small businesses are bearing the brunt of corporate influence in this country. We saw another clear illustration of this during the pandemic when COVID relief programs were pried open to large chains, pushing small businesses to the back of the line or even shutting them out completely,” said Natasha McKeller Crosby, Main Street Alliance board member. “To reform our democracy, election security and money in politics should absolutely be seen as a small business issue. Like working people generally, many small business owners understand that economic power and political power go hand-in-hand.”
“Georgia small business owners have an opportunity to pursue the American dream but this dream cannot exist for everyone unless all citizens can participate in the political process without barriers, '' said Vernita Naylor, Small Business Majority council member. “Suppressing the voting power of our state’s small businesses that are bringing in jobs, building the economy, and enhancing our communities is like a slap in the face. Our democracy is strongest when all Americans have fair access to voting and support to ensure voting rights for every American regardless of race, gender, and socioeconomic status.”
“A sustainable and just economy needs a strong democracy in which all Americans are able to participate with their votes and their voices. However, American Democracy is under attack in many states across the country,” said Thomas Oppel, American Sustainable Business Council Executive Vice President. “Congress has a duty under Section 1 of the Constitution to protect every American’s right to vote, but the current Senate filibuster rules clearly stand in the way of Congress protecting our rights. On behalf of the 250,000 businesses we represent, ASBC has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of both the For the People Act (S.1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We commend House Majority Whip James Clyburn for his leadership on this and support a ‘carve out’ of the filibuster in which the Senate rules would be changed to permit Constitutional issues, such as voting rights, to pass with a simple 51-vote majority. We call on the U.S. Senate to take the needed actions to enable it to be faithful to our Constitution.”
“Small businesses play a unique role in American life and as a critical part of their local communities, they can leverage their voice on the issue of access to the ballot box,” said Ashleigh R. Wilson, Legislative Director and Counsel to Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, U.S. House of Representatives. “We need small business owners to fully engage in voting rights advocacy because voting is a fundamental constitutional right. Access to the political process is important and runs parallel to access to a thriving economy. In order to build both a stronger democracy and economy, we must recognize that having the ability to participate in the democratic process is imperative. Every American should have a say in how the future of our Country is shaped.”
“The Senate Rule change that first created the opportunity to filibuster was an oversight,” said Mel Barnes, Staff Counsel for Law Forward and coauthor of “Filibuster Reform is Coming— Here’s How. Seven Ideas for Change. “It has since evolved into a tool used to slow and potentially stop important legislation, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, from advancing. Currently the government and the people are frustrated with how the filibuster is being used in the Senate. We must take an active step to shore up our democracy. Voting rights legislation is needed at a national level to guarantee equal access to the ballot across the states. Americans are very proud of, and invested in, our democracy. We must push forward with democracy reconciliation and open the door to prioritizing the critical changes needed to shore up voting rights for all Americans.”
Voting rights are being suppressed in states across the country. Between January 1 to July 14, 2021, at least 18 states enacted 30 laws restricting access to the vote. Polling has revealed that entrepreneurs, especially those of color, feel disadvantaged within the political system and want equitable access to the lawmakers and votes that impact their livelihoods. Now is the time to act and influence much-needed changes that will strengthen our democracy. We call on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass fair and transparent voting rights legislation that will give all citizens equal access to the vote and allow all voices to impact the political process.
To learn more, listen to the recording of the September 8 event at: https://tinyurl.com/4w86j7xz
About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority is a national small business organization that empowers America's diverse entrepreneurs to build a thriving and equitable economy. We engage our network of more than 80,000 small businesses and 1,000 business and community organizations to advocate for public policy solutions and deliver resources to entrepreneurs that promote equitable small business growth. Our deep connections with the small business community along with our scientific research enable us to educate the public about key issues impacting America’s entrepreneurs, with a special focus on advancing the smallest businesses and those facing systemic inequalities. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.