By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Even though the numbers show that Democrat Doug Jones was clearly the winner of the U.S. Senate seat, the Roy Moore campaign refused to concede and decided instead to wait for the final totals from the campaign to be tabulated.
“Wait on God and let this process play out,” Moore told his supporters.
“May God bless you as you go on, give you safe journey, and thank you for coming tonight,” Moore concluded when he dismissed his campaign watch party. “It’s not over and it’s going to take some time.”
At 11:00 p.m., the Alabama Political Reporter and other reporters met with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill about the vote certification process.
Merrill said that we still have to count all of the provisional and military ballots and to process all of the write-ins. Merrill said that a write-in is only valid if it were for someone who is constitutionally eligible. The example he gave is of a cartoon character. If they are not eligible to be senator that vote would not count in the final tabulation.
APR asked Merrill if he knew how many military and provisional ballots of those ballots there are. Merrill said that he did not. That they are all at the county level.
Merrill said that certification of the vote should occur sometime between the Dec. 26 and Jan. 3.
If the final count is within .5 percent there would be an automatic recount. The Moore campaign could still ask for a recount; but they would have to pay for it. The military ballots and provisional ballots will be counted on Dec. 19 at the county level.
According to Merrill’s office On Friday the counties will actually report to the Secretary of State the total number of write-in votes cast.
On Monday, the Secretary of State will notify the counties as to whether write-ins must be tabulated for each county.
On Tuesday the County Canvassing Boards will count the provisional ballots, the UOCAVA absentee ballots, and if necessary the write-in votes.
On Friday the County Canvassing Boards return and declare the results. They transmit the official results to the Secretary of State’s office.
On January 3 the State Canvassing Board meets.
If Moore was defeated by less than .5 percent it would trigger an automatic recount paid for by the state. This would commence within 72 hours of the certification of the election results by the State Canvassing board, unless Moore were to submit a written waiver to the Secretary of State within 24 hours of the State Canvassing Board Meeting.
While Moore supporters may harbor some hopes that thousands of military ballots are waiting to be counted; that seems unlikely.
Of those that voted,671,151 voters selected Doug Jones and 650,436 voted for Moore. Another 22,819 voted absentee ballot. On a percentage basis, Jones got 49.9 percent of the vote, Roy Moore got 48.4 percent of the vote and the write-in candidates got 1.7 percent. The difference between Jones and Moore is 1.5 percent. In other words, Moore is going to have to pick up very approximately 13,810 votes from the provisional ballots and the military absentee ballots to trigger that automatic recount.
“I find that to be highly improbable,” Merrill said.
Moore and his campaign did not fully understand the size of the hurdles confronting them when they made this decision. Then only 98 percent of the boxes had reported in and the margin was less than one percent; however 65 of the 67 counties had reported 100 percent of their boxes at that time. The two counties that were dragging were Mobile and Jefferson and Moore was crushed in all the heavily populated counties, including Jefferson. By the time we got the final numbers, well after midnight, that margin of victory for Jones had increased to 1.5 percent.
Jones clearly appears to be the winner of the special election to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton era U.S. Attorney Doug Jones appears to have defeated former Alabama Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in an election that garnered an unusual amount of publicity in a state where no Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race since 1992. Richard Shelby, who changed to the Republican Party just four years later, was the last Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama.
Ironically it was perhaps Senator Shelby’s vocal refusal to support Moore likely was a major factor in Moore’s inability to unite all of the factions of the Republican on election day.
Shelby said that Alabama deserves better than Moore and that he would be writing in the name of a prominent Republican in place of Moore. Over 20,000 Alabamians also wrote in a candidate and Moore lost by just 20,715 votes.