Possible recount in Alabama: What happens now?

Possible recount in Alabama: What happens now?
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Alabama Republican Roy Moore is refusing to concede in Tuesday's special Senate election, which has been called for Democrat Doug Jones.

Moore and his campaign are holding out hope as the final ballots are cast in case the margin dips to 0.5 percent or below, triggering an automatic recount.

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It's unclear whether that will come to pass, as Jones led Moore by 1.5 points into late Tuesday night. But it's clear that no winner will be certified until at least Christmas.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told reporters during an impromptu Tuesday night press conference in his state capitol office that the state will direct counties to count provisional ballots, absentee ballots and military ballots.

Those final numbers will be due to Merrill's office by Dec. 22, after which the results will be certified sometime between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3 of next year.

If the final numbers show a tight enough margin, the state's recount provision is automatically triggered. If the margin is outside of that trigger, either campaign could request a recount. As long as that campaign is willing to put up a bond and pay to cover the cost, the state will recount the votes.

Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeDems search for winning playbook Stephen Bannon steps down from Breitbart Scott joins Armed Services Committee MORE (R-Ala.), who had been appointed to fill the seat until the special election, will remain Alabama's junior senator as long as the process takes.