With COVID-19 and the governor’s shelter-in-place order, many Minnesotans are uncertain about the Nov. 3 General Election, wondering how it will move forward and will it ensure safety of the election judges and the voters.

We may wonder if things will ever be the same. Can business return to normal? Setting aside these concerns and uncertainties, we at MN350 and Minnesota Voice know we must still cast our votes. We also understand that COVID-19 is our wakeup call and we can no longer do “business as usual,” only time will tell if things will go back to the “norm.”

As a minority population we’ve been faced with many challenges and struggles in our lifetime; the COVID-19 pandemic is only one of many for us. Because every vote counts, we must cast our ballot regardless of what the pandemic brings us, keeping safety in mind.

With the COVID-19 pandemic we must work toward a new normal, at least for now. That means the state of Minnesota should send an absentee ballot to every eligible voter across the state this year.

MN350 is a member of Minnesota Voice. We share a non-partisan coalition partnership. Our goal is to keep voters safe; we must stay healthy and protect our freedoms and values while we cast our ballot. This year we will provide virtual outreach and register new voters regardless of the political party they identify with.

We must remind ourselves voter participation leads to power that relates to our water, our rights, public health, local economy and more. Together we can work toward permanent social, racial and economic justice by increasing civic engagement.

With networking and organizing we’ve built bridges across the minority population, along with our non-minority allies, so we can find solutions that will create safe voting polls for all Minnesotans. Our health, our well-being and our values are the platform of our democracy. We build power when we shift the power, voting does matter.

Nancy Beaulieu, Bemidji, is MN350 Northern Organizer.