ASBN Demonstrates Why Businesses Need the Freedom to Vote Act

Media Release

The American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN) today announced details of its business-led campaign to demonstrate the need for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and protection of voting rights. “Our country was founded on the premise of the freedom of its citizens from a distant monarch,” said Thomas Oppel, Executive Vice President, ASBN. “And thanks to the will of our people and our strong and resilient economy, we have enjoyed the independence we celebrate every July 4. Sadly, our freedom faces the same risk today as it did nearly 250 years ago, however, today’s threat to our democracy is home grown.” 

Echoing President Biden, who earlier recently said in a speech about threats to voting rights, “I’m tired of being quiet,” ASBN members and supporters, including businesses in West Virginia and Arizona, are voicing their concern because they know that without democracy functioning, the risk to businesses and our economy is existential.  

Jeni Burns Riser, who owns and operates Ms. Groovys Kitchen catering business in Charleston, spoke to ASBN on her day off on Sunday to voice her concern and volunteered to speak up for like-minded entrepreneurs. And Gayle Shanks, who owns and operates Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix and Tempe, spoke to ASBN before dawn one day last week to voice her concern and volunteered to speak up for like-minded entrepreneurs. Ms. Riser and ASBN board co-chair Seungah Jeong authored an opinion article about the topic that was published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail. 

President Biden isn’t the only one who’s “tired of being quiet” about voting rights.  A business campaign led by ASBN and co-sponsored by 1worker1vote, designing the we, New Jersey Sustainable Business Council, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, and Wisconsin Green Growth has more than 200 signatories and thus far generated more than 1,300 messages from business owners to the Senate in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement and Freedom to Vote measures. The campaign is supported by op-eds in Arizona and Wyoming and a targeted digital media campaign. 

“Like other business owners, and residents of West Virginia and Arizona and every other state, Ms. Riser and Ms. Shanks know that democracy and a sustainable economy enjoy a symbiotic relationship. A risk to one is a risk to the other,” said David Levine, co-founder and president of ASBN.  “Which is why they and other business owners openly support Senate passage of the Freedom to Vote Act to establish minimum requirements for how states conduct federal elections. These include the expansion of voter registration, requirement of a minimum number of days and hours for early voting, and creation of a nationwide right to vote by mail.” 

In 1787 the country’s founders knew their system was far from perfect and openly said when they were writing the Constitution, they were trying to create a more perfect union and we have a history of including the voices of those who make these united states a better functioning democracy. The abolition of slavery, extension of citizenship, and allowing women to vote as recently as last century are signs of our progress to be less imperfect, and attempts to silence voices by allowing voting restrictions is a dangerous step backwards for businesses. Ms. Riser, Ms. Shanks and the tens of thousands of businesses represented by ASBN need options such as the mail-in-vote and extended voting hours to participate in our democracy while supporting our economy. 

“Entrepreneurship depends on a democracy in which people know that if they have a good idea to serve a market need and are willing to sacrifice and work diligently, their idea can become a successful, profitable business for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, Co-chair of ASBN; Co-Founder of Known Holdings, CFO of East Bay Community Foundation, and CEO/Founder of Red-Horse Financial Group. “The Senate must do its part to protect every eligible American’s right to vote and guarantee that election results are respected by passing fair and transparent voting rights legislation.” 

“Failing to pass voting rights legislation that protects our democracy threatens our economy,” said Seungah Jeong, Co-Chair of ASBN, and President & CEO of MPOWERD. “Allowed to continue, these anti-democracy actions will result in an autocratic government favoring politically-connected special interests that will sap the will of the entrepreneurs who drive our local, state, and national economies. So, the next time you visit your favorite local business, thank them for voicing their opinion about your right to vote.” 

Aspects of the campaign include letter writing as well as paid and earned social media such as those currently on the ASBN website.