Alabama officials certify Doug Jones as Senate winner despite challenge

Alabama's secretary of state has certified Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the state's U.S. Senate race despite a legal challenge by Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign was derailed by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Republican Roy Moore alleged voter fraud, filed late challenge to election result

Democratic Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones acknowledges supporters at the election night party in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 12. He was certified as the winner of the race on Thursday. (Marvin Gentry/Reuters)

Alabama's secretary of state on Thursday certified Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the state's U.S. Senate race despite a legal challenge by Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign was derailed by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. 

The certification was declared completed at 1:10 p.m. local time.

Citing high voter turnout, one official said the vote "broke every record in the history of the state for a special election."

Moore has alleged there was potential voter fraud in the Dec. 12 election that denied him a chance of victory. His filing on Wednesday in the Montgomery Circuit Court sought to halt the state canvassing board meeting to ratify Jones's win on Thursday. Jones is to be sworn in next week.

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, seen here arriving on his horse to cast his ballot on Dec. 12, has filed a challenge to the outcome of the election. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Jones won the seat, vacated when Jeff Sessions was tapped by Trump as Attorney General, by about 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percentage points, election officials said. That made him the first Democrat in a quarter century to win a Senate seat in the state.

When he takes office, the Republican majority in the upper chamber will narrow to 51 of the 100 seats.

Moore declined to concede defeat despite being urged by Trump to do so.

'Doug Jones will be certified today'

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill met with other members of the canvassing board, Gov. Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall, to certify the result.

"Doug Jones will be certified today," Merrill told CNN in a phone call earlier Thursday.

"I have no regrets. To God be the glory," Moore said in a statement distributed after the certification of the results. In it, he reiterated that it was a "fraudulent" election.

Regarding the claim of voter fraud, Merrill said more than 100 cases had been reported. "We've adjudicated more than 60 of those. We will continue to do that," he said.

A day after the election, Merrill had told CNN it was "highly unlikely" that Jones, 63, would not be certified as the winner.

​A spokesperson for Jones called Moore's last-minute lawsuit a "desperate attempt."

Sam Coleman said Thursday that Moore's attempt to "subvert the will of the people will not succeed." Echoing a previous refrain from Jones, Coleman added, "The election is over. It's time to move on."

Republican lawmakers in Washington had distanced themselves from Moore and called for him to drop out of the race after he was accused by several women of sexual assault or misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s.

Moore, 70, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has denied any wrongdoing. 

Moore posted a statement on Facebook saying three election experts who reviewed the results "agreed that the irregularities in 20 precincts of Jefferson County alone are enough to reverse the outcome of the election." 

It also said his complaint also contained an affidavit from him that he successfully passed a polygraph examination that cleared him of sexual misconduct.