A letter signed by almost 100 small business and community leaders urging Senator Susan Collins to support the “For the People Act” was released at an event at Portland City Hall yesterday.
More than four dozen people gathered at a rally sponsored by Common Cause to hear local business leaders explain why the bill needs to become law. According to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, even after last month’s Republican filibuster of the bill, “We have several serious options for how to reconsider this issue and advance legislation.”
“I am here to encourage Senator Collins and senators across the country to support the For the People Act,” said Dave Aceto, Owner of Arcadia National Bar. “This is a movement in America, and that movement is to recognize, educate, and react to a balance of power that has lifted up the few and cast aside many.”
“We are here today, I am here today, to say as a young black business owner, I can’t stay quiet. Not when I know that the voting apparatus in this country is subject to unfair practices,” said Dustin Ward, owner of It Is Time, LLC, a consulting firm.
“Voting rights are what keeps our country a democracy for ALL,” Jim Wellehan, owner and CEO of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, said previously. Wellehan was one of the business owners who signed the letter.
The For the People Act would create national standards for voting access. It would also limit the influence of money in politics, enforce ethics standards for all three branches of government and require congressional districts to be drawn by a non-partisan commission so that no one party has an advantage. Once they learn about it, more than two-thirds of Americans – including more than half of Republicans – support the bill. Provisions to limit special interest influence are particularly popular, supported by four out of five Republicans.
“Maine’s election laws provide the foundation for our accessible and secure elections with high rates of participation,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said before the event. “I’m proud of this, but sadly right now they stand in stark contrast to the regressive laws being passed in other states. The federal government needs to do its job in ensuring a baseline level of voting access for all voters, and Maine’s laws would be a great place to start.”
The For the People Act “would ensure that Maine’s strong tradition of democracy continues in the years ahead by strengthening ethics and disclosure laws, increasing transparency, and supporting efforts to modernize our election infrastructure. The For the People Act would also bring resources for online voter registration, funding for ballot tracking, and election security improvements to Maine,” the letter says. “Common-sense reforms in the For the People Act are deeply popular across the political spectrum and are already law in many states and localities. We strongly support the bill’s three overarching goals: (1) protecting and strengthening our right to vote, (2) increasing transparency of campaigns and strengthening disclosure laws, and (3) implementing anti-corruption, pro-ethics measures to level the playing field in government. We have always understood the necessity and importance of these values in Maine, and we know that every voter in the nation deserves an equal share of our democracy.”
“Today, our democracy is something that we have to fight for – and that’s what the For the People Act does, and that’s what all of you are doing here today, by raising your voices together,” Scott Turcotte, organizer for Common Cause told the audience. “We’d like to thank Senator King for his strong support of the For the People Act — and we urge Senator Collins to stand with us and support it, also.”
Small businesses and organizations that have signed the letter include: A Corked Fork Inc.; A&C Grocery; Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, Maine; Arcadia National Bar; Arcana; Atlantic Leadership Center in Eastport; Avesta Housing; Bangor Indivisible; Bar Harbor Farm; BeauChemin Preservation Farm; Beth Israel Congregation, Bath; Body Wise; Capital Area New Mainers Project; Coast City Comics; Common Cause Maine; Community Concepts; Community Water Justice; Congregation Bet Ha’am; Consumer Council System of Maine; Country Fare Inc.; Davey Strategies; Disability Rights Maine; Dobra Tea; First Parish Portland; Franklin United Methodist Community Church; Fresh Food Gardens, LLC; Global Village Inc.; Grace-Street Ministry; Halcyon Yarn; Hammond Heirs; Harpswell Indivisible; Healing Routes; Higgins Balsams North; Highfield Farm Christmas Trees; Homeless Voices for Justice; Indivisible MDI; Indivisible Washington County; It Is Time LLC; Juju Maine, LLC; Lamey-Wellehan; League of Women Voters of Maine; Maine & Loire Restaurant; Maine Affordable Housing Coalition; Maine AFL-CIO; Maine Challenge Productions; Maine Citizens for Clean Elections; Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence; Maine Conservation Voters; Maine Council of Churches; Maine Equal Justice; Maine Homestead Project; Maine Inside Out; Maine Parent Federation; Maine People’s Alliance; Maine Small Business Coalition; Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network; Mainers for Accountable Leadership; Mainers for Humane Immigration; Mainers for Modern Elections; Mainers for Working Families; Meghan Flynn Ceramics; Mocean Skateboards; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Nomads, Inc; Office of Dr. Sam Bergman; Onggi Foods; Parks McKinney Facials & Waxing; Pigeons Restaurant; Portland Flea-for-All; Portland Trading Company; Preble Street; Prospect Harbor United Methodist Church; Rebecca Hoffman Fine Gardening; Red Bird Acupuncture; RESIST Central Maine; Something’s Fishy Gift Shop; Suit Up Maine; Syntiro; The Blue Lobster; The Green Hand Bookshop; The Independent Café; Top of the Nine; Tree Spirits Winery & Distillery; Tricia Jamiol Photography; Unitarian Universalist Church of Waterville, ME; Up With Community; Vena’s Fizz House; Vinalhaven Land Trust; Weston’s Farm & Market; Whaleback Cider; When Pigs Fly Restaurant; Willa Hartt LLC; Women’s March Portland Maine; and Zootility Tools.
Download courtesy photos from the event here.
Download the letter here.
Watch the event livestream here.
Read a summary of the For the People Act here.
Read about the bill’s bipartisan origins here.