A local group, Open Democracy, says statements from businesses in Georgia and Texas could lead the way for how NH businesses might respond to anti-voter bills currently before the NH legislature.
A NH Senate bill heard last week on NH House Election Law had a provision similar to one passed and widely condemned in Georgia. This proposed bill is just one of several that tighten restrictions on voting, many of which have been “retained in committee” rather than receiving negative "inexpedient to legislate" recommendations.
“The statements from Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, CocaCola, Dell Computer and others are the beginning of a nationwide pushback from businesses on these deliberate barriers to voting proposed to keep young Americans, Americans of color, disabled Americans, and blue-collar Americans from the polls,” said Olivia Zink, executive director of Open Democracy, a non-partisan voters' rights group based in Concord. “These bills attack our freedom to vote, our ability to register to vote, and to use absentee ballots by adding unneeded red tape to the process.
"Governor Chris Sununu already says that New Hampshire’s election system is the “gold standard” for other states,” Zink added.
Open Democracy launched an initiative in the April issue of Business NH Magazine called “A Healthy Democracy is Good Business,“ with a statement of principles that businesses are encouraged to sign. The statement, located at OpenDemocracyNH.org/goodbusiness, endorses: Americans’ inherent freedom to vote; voting districts free of partisan gerrymandering; and commits businesses to avoid support for candidates and legislators who propose anti-voter legislation.
“We have many great businesses large and small in New Hampshire, ranging from family-owned enterprises like mine, to big businesses like Fidelity Investments, Eversource, Velcro and BAE Systems,” said Steve Rand, owner of Rand Hardware in Plymouth. “Of the small business owners here in Plymouth, many of them are people who came to school here, felt welcome enough to build businesses, and now play a vital role in our state economy. These anti-voter policies, if enacted, would have a chilling effect on attracting and keeping talent in our state."
The “A Healthy Democracy is Good Business” initiative starts with the good will of businesses signing on of their own volition. The organization has not ruled out other tactics to persuade businesses that it’s in their best interest to speak out against state laws that deny all Americans the freedom to vote.
More information about the initiative is available at OpenDemocracyNH.org/goodbusiness.