In a last-ditch effort to prevent the confirmation of Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of Alabama’s recent special election, Judge Roy Moore issued a legal challenge late Wednesday evening. In the 80-page complaint, filed in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, Moore cites electoral fraud and various other alleged irregularities that lead to his defeat in the election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat.
The purpose of the complaint was to prevent the Alabama State Canvassing Board from meeting to officially certify the election result; the final step in sending Jones to the United States Senate. That meeting was scheduled for 1 pm local time Thursday. In a statement released Wednesday by the Moore campaign, the candidate insisted that the result should not be certified until alleged “election fraud” is investigated. Less than half an hour before the three-member Canvassing Board was scheduled to meet, Fox News reported that a federal judge had rejected Moore’s challenge, clearing the way for Jones’ victory to be certified.
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue as election integrity should matter to everyone. We call on Secretary of State [John] 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.”
Legal Complaint Extensive but Vague
The complaint filed by Moore’s attorney was light on factual substance, noting unusual voting patterns and citing “statistical analysis by election-fraud experts” that “clearly indicate election fraud.” In Alabama’s Jefferson County, the complaint claimed, “there was a large implausible statistical discrepancy in 20 precincts.” Essentially, the Moore campaign is claiming that turnout in certain precincts was unusually large.
Indeed, there was little in the way of compelling evidence in the complaint. It was a rambling document, filled with suspicion, implication, and conjecture. Proof of actual voter fraud was thin, and it was unlikely that a federal judge would act on it to postpone the certification of the result. Whilst the election may well have been subject to a certain amount of irregularity, the question was always whether the amount of fraud committed changed the outcome. The complaint even acknowledged this.
Several additional issues were covered in the complaint, including the alleged use of voting machines which did not comply with lawful guidelines and the suspicion that non-residents had traveled to Alabama to vote in the election. The complaint demanded that a new special election be ordered or that all allegations of voter fraud be thoroughly investigated. The accusations of sexual misconduct on the part of Moore were also addressed in the complaint, which claimed that the candidate had passed a polygraph test.
Time to Move On
Ultimately, it seemed a futile effort on the part of the Moore campaign to argue that the election was just not fair on a number of levels. Moore did not concede to his opponent, who won the election by less than 22,000 votes or 1.5%. This margin of victory was, however, significant enough not to trigger a recount. The Canvassing Board, consisting of Governor Kay Ivey, Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall – all Republicans – met on schedule and certified the election result. Doug Jones will be sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Mike Pence when the Senate reconvenes in the new year.
At this point, questions about Moore’s guilt or innocence regarding the allegations against him are moot. His chances of a political career on the national stage are, likely, over. Doug Jones will occupy a Senate seat until 2020. Doubtless, the Republican Party will do what it can to ensure that Roy Moore does not run again. Republican Senators will, no doubt, feel a sense of relief that they will not have to go into the 2018 midterm elections answering questions about the firebrand Alabama judge.