America — and our communities here on the Eastern Shore — are at several critical and converging crossroads.

These junctures are poised to have serious long-term political, societal and economic consequences that cannot be understated.

The post-election vote counts in presidential battlegrounds have created concerns about voter fraud and the counting of illegal votes. These worries should not be summarily dismissed because they are coming from President Donald Trump and his supporters, even with media projections of White House victory for Joe Biden.

We need to count votes. But election night stoppages of counts, the inclusion of potentially late arriving votes and concerns about outright voter fraud are not to be ignored.

Trump and those with concerns need to present serious and substantial evidence of their claims and they need to be addressed — not brushed aside as conspiracy theories. The political and media drumbeat of a Biden win should not overshadow election integrity. Building confidence in the election results will be important to Biden’s presidency if projections hold and he is the winner.

It would also help Biden’s promise to be a president for all Americans, if he prevails. Otherwise, we jeopardize public trust in the election system and democracy.

We also need to see more transparency and more uniform counting and disclosures of votes. If Florida and Ohio can get their votes counted, then why can’t Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania?

Here in Maryland, vote counts — including here on the Shore — were not disclosed until after midnight on election night, even as results from other states were reported. The state does not disclose results until all polling places across the state are closed. That needs to change. The whole state should not have to wait on results because of slow moving jurisdictions such as Baltimore, or problems at one polling place.

We also continue to worry about how social media Goliaths are censoring and restricting free speech. We know Twitter, Facebook and Google own their platforms. But their censorship of conservative voices as well as news stories is disturbing. We are all free to disagree with Trump, The New York Post or anyone else. But the increasingly aggressive restrictions of free speech by social media platforms during this campaign season and our penchants to shout down others’ views — including here on the Shore — puts us on a perilous and Orwellian track.

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st., has voiced concerns about “big tech” and social media censorship. We need to see others speak up — including all of us who use Twitter, Facebook and Google. We are their customers. They make all their billions of dollars because we use their platforms. We need to see new platforms that value free speech. If the social media giants don’t change, users should migrate to other platforms that value the First Amendment and free speech.

Joe Biden spoke on Friday, Nov. 6, about concerns about new surges in reported coronavirus cases. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan warned of a rise in cases a day earlier. Hogan also admonished Marylanders to wear masks, discouraged social gatherings and travel to areas seeing reported spikes and he wants more enforcement of COVID-19 orders.

Biden said he would institute new COVID measures on “day one” if he wins the White House. Biden needs to tell us what those “day one” actions are and should have been pressed more on that during his hunkered down campaign.

We cannot understate our concerns about potential efforts to re-shutter the economy and everyday life after the election. Such a move would decimate already teetering jobs and small businesses and dramatically worsen the mental health and overdose crises already caused by previous shutdowns and social isolation. They will stir unrest.

We are at critical crossroads for our livelihoods and jobs as well as the foundations of democracy, voting and free speech. Those cannot be lost as we count votes and traverse the end of an unprecedented year.

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