A Strong Democracy Means a Strong Economy. That’s Why Small Businesses Oppose NC’s New Election Bills. 

Voters walk past campaign signs at the Graham Civic Center polling location in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Jim Duffett

August 29, 2023

New legislation could undermine the essence of democracy in North Carolina, small-business leaders write.

In North Carolina, our democracy, the bedrock of our nation’s prosperity, faces a significant threat from fast-moving and highly consequential anti-voter measures. Senate Bill 747, Senate Bill 749, and House Bill 772 could undermine the essence of democracy in North Carolina, with potential far-reaching consequences – including for the business environment in our state. As citizens and business leaders, we must take decisive action to preserve our democratic principles, as they are essential for the prosperity of small businesses and local communities.

Small businesses and local communities thrive in a flourishing democratic society that provides stability, predictability, and a framework for growth and innovation. These businesses depend on an environment where investments are protected, employees’ rights are upheld, and diverse voices are valued and included. 

The anti-voter bills under consideration could have detrimental consequences by empowering extremists to challenge legitimate ballots, violating voters’ privacy, and shaking the foundations of our electoral process. Restrictions on same-day registration would disenfranchise many citizens, make it harder for our employees to vote, and burden local election officials, undermining election integrity.

That’s not what small businesses want or need.

‘Deeply Concerned’

In August of 2022, Small Business for America’s Future surveyed 1,181 small business owners in its network about their feelings on issues ranging from the economic impact of threats to democracy, to their willingness to speak out in favor of protecting it. The results show small business owners are deeply concerned about the state of US democracy and the impacts that threats to democracy have on the economy and their livelihoods. Seventy-eight percent of small business owners surveyed are very concerned with the current state of democracy and 89% say a well-functioning democracy is very important to a strong small business economy. 

A strong democracy benefits everyone, including businesses. It ensures a level playing field where innovation, hard work, and merit are rewarded, driving progress and fostering public confidence. By prioritizing the preservation of democracy, we create an environment of trust and transparency, allowing businesses to operate with certainty.

Small businesses are the backbone of local economies, driving growth and prosperity. A weakened democracy jeopardizes the stability and predictability necessary for small businesses to thrive, leading to uncertainty and hindering economic progress.

‘Civic Duty’

To protect the democratic foundation that allows businesses to flourish, North Carolina’s business community must unite beyond partisan differences in support of fair and equitable voting laws, enhanced election security, and increased access to the ballot box for all citizens. 

The Small Business For America’s Future survey found that 59% of small business owners are very likely to speak publicly in favor of protecting the democratic process. Engaging our customers and employees in this critical endeavor can raise awareness about preserving democracy and instill a sense of civic duty among stakeholders.

The erosion of democracy poses serious economic ramifications for small businesses and local communities in North Carolina. To secure a brighter and more prosperous future for all, we must stand united as North Carolinians, prioritizing the preservation of democratic values over partisan interests. By advocating for fair voting laws and enhanced election security, we can set an example for businesses across the nation while safeguarding our democratic principles.

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