- The Republican Roy Moore has refused to concede the US Senate race in Alabama despite results showing a clear margin of victory for his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones.
- Moore is holding out hope for a recount, which would likely only take place if the certified votes show a less than 0.5% margin.
- Here’s how the certification and recount process could play out.
The Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore refused to concede Alabama’s special election to his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, on Tuesday night despite preliminary results showing Jones leading by more than 21,000 votes.
The 1.5-percentage-point margin is narrow, but Alabama’s secretary of state, John Merrill, says it is most likely wide enough to ensure Jones’ victory even with some votes remaining to be counted.
“I know a lot of people would say it’s never over until it’s over, but the margin of victory for Doug Jones at this particular time looks like a very difficult amount of votes to overcome as the remaining votes that are out there to be counted next week begin to be considered at the local level,” Merrill told CNN on Wednesday.
But Moore is not giving up hope.
“Realize when the vote is this close, it’s not over,” Moore told supporters in a speech late Tuesday night. “And we still got to go by the rules about this recount provision … It’s not over, and it’s going to take some time.”
On Wednesday night, Moore released a YouTube video in which he again refused to concede, saying he would wait until all the votes were counted.
What happens next
Over the coming days, each of Alabama’s 67 counties will process the remaining write-in votes and provisional and military ballots from overseas.
Counties must report those votes to the secretary of state’s office by December 22. Then, at some point between December 26 and January 3, all votes will go through a certification process.
If the margin of victory then turns out to be under 0.5%, an automatic recount provision will kick in. In that case, the state government has to pay for the recount.
Beyond that, Moore might not have a recourse.
“However, several offices are not included in Alabama’s law for contesting elections: lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, and U.S. representative,” Alabama’s election handbook reads. “The omission of U.S. senators and representatives is probably due to the fact that each house of Congress is the final judge of its own members’ qualifications.”
John Bennett, Merrill’s deputy chief of staff, told Business Insider on Wednesday that the handbook is not the law, but rather an interpretation of the law, and that it is too soon to discuss the possibility of a recount.
But he also said that Sections 17-16-20 and 17-16-21 of Alabama’s election law “probably” allow political parties or the candidates themselves to request a recount in elections for both state-level and federal positions.
“We’re just not at that point,” he said. “We should get to verifying the vote first.”
Some, including a few Republicans, have already criticized Moore’s delayed concession.
“Roy Moore won’t concede; says will wait on God to speak,” the former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas tweeted Wednesday morning. “God wasn’t registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn’t close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy. I know first hand but it’s best to exit with class.”
Tuesday’s special election, held to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, followed one of the most scandal-plagued political contests in recent memory. Moore spent much of the campaign’s final weeks fighting off several accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers from when he was in his 30s.
Assuming the election-night results hold true, Jones, a former prosecutor, will be the first Democrat to hold an Alabama Senate seat since 1992.