Michigan small business owners raise alarm about need to protect democracy

Press Release
October 19, 2022

Frank Knapp

Michigan small business owners raise alarm about need to protect democracy

Recognize U.S. House candidates for their support of Congressional reforms

Full Video of Press Conference

Grand Rapids, MI —Yesterday the Michigan Business for Democracy collaborative urged voters to be concerned about protecting democracy and announced the results of a Michigan Congressional candidate survey.

“Small business owners understand that a strong democracy is essential for a vibrant entrepreneurial economy where small businesses flourish.,” said Hanna Schulze, president of People First Economy and a leader of the small business collaborative.  “The two go hand in hand. We are raising the alarm about losing our democracy.”

Joining Ms. Schulze at the press event were other members of the collaborative.

“On January 6, 2021, the world witnessed the chaos that gripped our nation’s capital. What took place that day was clearly an attempt to overthrow a duly elected President. Had the insurrectionists succeeded, democracy would have died. Small business leaders would either fall in line with those in power or lose all of what they worked so hard to create. What is far less know is that Michigan also came very close following the 2020 election to the same sort of chaos that gripped our nation’s capital on January 6th.  Like Washington, our state also has an old, ambiguous law that governs the certification of the popular vote by “canvassers. We can protect Michigan’s democracy by passing Proposal 2, which will require the State Board of Canvassers to certify election results solely on the outcome of the popular vote,” said Mike Shesterkin, Executive Director of the Southeast Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

“Even though my area is heavily populated, it has had historically low participation in all elections for decades. Many of our local citizens have varying reasons why participating in our voting system may be difficult because of their jobs, disabilities, or other legitimate reason. Neighborhoods like ours exist all across America.  Unfortunately, there are those in elected office or aspire to be elected who want to make it more difficult to vote, not easier.  That is not democracy.  We need our elected officials to protect our democracy and make voting by registered voters easier, not harder or even not at all,” said Alysha Lach White, owner of Little Spaces Studio in Grand Rapids.

The Business for Democracy collaborative conducted a survey of all the Michigan candidates for the U.S. House to determine which candidates would support three Congressional reform bills that would provide firm and stable support for America’s democracy (see below).

Michigan House candidates Dr. Bob Lorinser (CD 1), Jerry Hilliard (CD 2), Bob Goldberg (CD 5), and Carl Marlinga (CD 10) completed the short survey and indicated that they would support each of these bills.

It is important that voters know where candidates stand on protecting democracy and who is committed to passing reforms to do that if they are elected,” said Ms. Schulze.  “Democracy and our economy are on the ballot in November.”

Michigan is one of eight states that have built Business for Democracy collaboratives.

Business for Democracy is a campaign of the American Sustainable Business Network.


Voting Reforms Needed to Protect Democracy and Our Economy

The aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election shows how critical voting reform is needed to guarantee free, fair, and secure elections that will not only ensure that the will of the voters is honored but that our vibrant, entrepreneurial economy will continue.

Congress must pass three pieces of legislation either before this November’s election or in 2023.  These bills form the three-legged stool providing firm and stable support for our democracy.

Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022.  This 1887 law governing Congressional procedures for how state electoral votes for president and vice president are cast and counted should be reformed to update the vague and outdated language.  The Act needs to be reformed by Congress to confront electoral subversion at both the state and federal levels by helping ensure that partisan politicians cannot substitute their own preferences for the judgment of the American people in presidential elections.  This bipartisan bill has 11 Republican and 10 Democrat co-sponsors and is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  This bill would modernize and revitalize the Voting Rights Act of 1965, strengthening legal protections against discriminatory voting policies and practices, guaranteeing equal access to the ballot.

The Freedom to Vote Act.  The bill improves access to the ballot for Americans, advances commonsense election integrity reforms, and protects our democracy from emerging threats. Importantly, this proposal reflects feedback from state and local election officials to ensure that the people responsible for implementing these reforms are able to do so effectively. This bill also elevates the voices of American voters by ending partisan gerrymandering and rooting out the undue influence of special interest money in our politics.


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