Doug Jones certified as Alabama's first Democratic senator in 25 years
Doug Jones on Thursday became the first Democrat in 25 years to be confirmed as winner of a United States Senate seat in Alabama, just hours after his rival, Republican Roy Moore, filed a lawsuit urging officials to delay certification because of “systematic election fraud.”
The three Republicans who make up Alabama’s canvassing board — Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall, and Secretary of State John Merrill — certified Jones as the victor of the closely-watched Dec. 12 special election Thursday.
Late Wednesday night, attorneys for Moore and his campaign filed an election complaint in the Circuit Court of Montgomery to postpone Jones’ certification until officials had conducted a “thorough investigation of potential election fraud” that “improperly altered the outcome of this election.”
But an Alabama circuit judge rejected Moore's request to halt the certification, arguing the court did not have jurisdiction. Meanwhile, officials from the Secretary of State’s office dismissed Moore’s attorneys’ accounts of voter fraud.
“There have not been any issues at this time that have been reported and determined to be verified as fraud,” John Bennett, Merrill’s deputy chief of staff, said Thursday morning.
Moore, 70, the defiant former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has refused to concede since Jones defeated him by more than 20,000 votes in a Dec. 12 special election.
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue as election integrity should matter to everyone,” Moore said in a statement released Wednesday night. “We call on Secretary of State Merrill to delay certification until there is a thorough investigation of what three independent election experts agree took place: election fraud sufficient to overturn the outcome of the election.”
In the 80-page complaint filed in state court, Moore’s attorneys urged the court to issue a temporary restraining order blocking the certification, as well as an order directing state officials to set a new special election.
On Thursday morning, an attorney for Jones filed a motion to dismiss Moore’s complaint on the grounds that “there is a lack of subject matter jurisdiction; [the complaint] fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and/or [it] has no basis in the law.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the Jones transition team urged Moore to bow out of the race.
"This desperate attempt by Roy Moore to subvert the will of the people will not succeed," said Sam Coleman. "The election is over, it's time to move on."
In the complaint, Moore’s attorneys maintain that he will “suffer irreparable harm” if the election results are certified “without preserving and investigating all the evidence of potential fraud.” He would be denied “his full right as a candidate to a fair election,” they argue.
Merrill, a Republican, maintains his office has found no evidence of voter fraud. Last week, he issued a statement noting that his office had discounted one widely publicized report of potential voter fraud — a viral video in which a male voter claimed in a local news broadcast that he and others had come “all the way from different parts of the country” to vote and canvass for Jones.
“The Alabama Secretary of State's Office was able to identify the young man who was anonymously featured on the news broadcast,” Merrill said in a statement. “After additional research was conducted, it was determined that this young man has lived and worked in Alabama for more than one year and is currently a registered voter in this state.”
But Moore’s attorneys argue in the complaint that Merrill’s investigation was not transparent.
They also list a series of election “anomalies,” claiming there were an unusual number of out-of-state driver’s licenses used as voter identification (allowed in Alabama so long as the name matches that of a registered voter), and providing an affidavit from a poll worker in Montgomery County who said she saw a high number of out-of-state licenses from Georgia and North Carolina.