State officials certified the election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate Thursday despite a last-minute legal attempt by Jones’ opponent, Roy Moore, to stop the process.
According to the certified vote tally, Jones won with 673,896 votes, 49.97 percent of the vote, over Moore’s 651,972 votes, 48.34 percent — a margin of victory of 21,924 votes, or 1.63 percent.
Compared to the unofficial vote count, Jones gained 2,745 votes, while Moore gained 1,536 votes.
“I’m looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the new year,” Jones said in a statement after the certification. “As I said on election night, our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation. I will be an independent voice and work to find common ground with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get Washington back on track and fight to make our country a better place for all.
The vote was certified by a committee of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, Gov. Kay Ivey and state Attorney General Steve Marshall.
Though Moore, the Republican candidate, initially was considered the favorite in a deeply red state, his campaign was plagued with numerous allegations that he had initiated sexual contact with underage women while he was in his 30s. Moore repeatedly denied the claims, stating in his complaint that he had taken a polygraph test that proved his innocence.
Jones, a self-described “center-of-the-road political figure,” will become Alabama’s first Democratic senator since former Sen. Howell Heflin left the Senate in 1997.
At 10:33 p.m. Wednesday, Moore filed a complaint in Montgomery County’s Circuit Court calling for a delay of certification “until a meaningful investigation into … alleged instances of election fraud has been completed.” The complaint also called for a new special election for the Senate seat to be held.
Judge Johnny Hardwick denied Moore’s request shortly after noon Thursday, saying his court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Merrill said there had been more than 100 complaints of voter fraud, of which his office had examined more than 60. One report, he said, was about a nonexistent town, which he described as “a flat-out lie.”
But in an emailed statement after the certification, Moore maintained his allegations of election fraud. He said he had been told by experts that fraud existed, and he pointed out that a Super PAC had been ordered to stop running one ad it had run opposing Moore because it was misleading.
“I have stood for the truth about God and the Constitution for the people of Alabama,” Moore said in the statement. “I have no regrets. To God be the glory.”
Moore’s complaint was the culmination of his two-week refusal to concede the election. In a video released Dec. 13, Moore said he was waiting for military and provisional ballots to be counted, and for the vote to be certified.
Moore has also portrayed his refusal to concede as a religious crusade, of sorts. In the same video, he described the election as a battle for “the heart and soul of our country.”
“We are indeed in a struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization, and our religion and to set free a suffering humanity,” he said. “Today, we no longer recognize the universal truth that God is the author of our life and liberty. Abortion, sodomy, and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Moore had raised funds for an Election Integrity Fund through emails asking his supporters to donate to help his effort to investigate voter fraud claims. According to one of those emails, the Moore campaign’s Election Integrity Fund had raised $71,375 of its $75,000 goal. It is unclear what will be done with the money now.
Sam Coleman, the spokesman for Jones’ transition team, described Moore’s complaint as a “desperate attempt … to subvert the will of the people.”
“The election is over,” Coleman added. “It’s time to move on.”
Jones is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 3. He will replace Luther Strange, who was appointed by then-Gov. Robert Bentley to finish the term of Jeff Sessions, who left his seat to serve as U.S. Attorney General.
This post has been updated to include comments from Moore.