Alabama certifies Jones as winner despite Moore protest

Alabama has officially certified Democrat Doug Jones's victory in the recent special Senate election, confirming that he'll be the first Democrat to represent the state in the Senate in decades.

The certification, made by top Alabama officials Thursday afternoon, comes over the protests of Republican Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreGeorge Will says Trump doesn’t inspire ‘cult’ in GOP: ‘This is fear’ RNC mum on whether it will support Trump-backed Corey Stewart Loyalty to Donald Trump is new normal for the Republican Party MORE, who lost to Jones by about 1.5 percentage points but claims that massive voter fraud tipped the scales.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall signed the official certification at 1:10 p.m. on Thursday, officially declaring Jones the winner. 

The official declaration brings to an end an unusual election, one that continued to make headlines for weeks after votes were cast. 

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Moore came in as the favorite despite his controversial history that saw him removed from the state supreme court bench twice. But accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s roiled the race.

That gave Jones, who made his name in the state for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen who killed four girls when they bombed a black church in Birmingham during the Civil Rights movement, a new opening.

He stormed to victory with overwhelming support from black, young and female voters. 

But Moore refused to concede. He first called on supporters to wait until military votes and provisional ballots were counted. But his campaign soon turned to allegations of widespread voter fraud, fundraising for an "election integrity" project and threatening to fund a recount. 

The campaign filed a last-minute court appeal Wednesday asking to pause the certification to launch a larger investigation into voter fraud allegations. But Merrill told CNN on Thursday that his office had fully investigated more than 60 allegations of voter fraud and were not convinced.

Some of the allegations raised by the Moore campaign in the court filing included incidents where officials found legitimate explanations for the conduct. 

For example, the complaint cites a television news interview with a man who said he and others came "from different parts of the country" to support Jones and vote for him. But Merrill spoke to that man and determined that he moved to the state last year and had an active voter registration in Alabama.

An Alabama district court rejected the Moore campaign's challenge shortly before the certification on Thursday.

Now, Jones will become the first Democratic senator from Alabama since Sen. Howell Heflin retired after the 1996 elections.

"I am looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the new year," Jones said in a statement shortly 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."

 

Since the special election was called to fill the seat vacated by Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump administration creating family reunification task force: report Mexican airline pledges to reunite immigrant families separated by Trump policy for free Jennifer Lopez sounds off on Trump immigration policy MORE, who is now President TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE's attorney general, Jones will finish Sessions's term and will be up for reelection again in 2020.