Roy S. Moore, the first Republican to lose a United States Senate race in Alabama in 25 years, moved late Wednesday to block state officials from certifying the victory of his Democratic rival on Thursday afternoon because of “systematic voter fraud.”
In a complaint filed in the circuit court here in Alabama’s capital, Mr. Moore’s campaign argued that such fraud had tainted the Dec. 12 special election, which Mr. Moore lost to Doug Jones by fewer than 22,000 votes, and that the Alabama authorities had inadequately investigated claims of misconduct.
If the election is prematurely certified, Mr. Moore’s lawyers wrote, he will “suffer irreparable harm” and be “denied his full right as a candidate to a fair election.”
John H. Merrill, the Alabama secretary of state, has dismissed complaints, from Democratic and Republican critics, of election fraud. In an interview on Dec. 15, Mr. Merrill, a Republican who voted for Mr. Moore, flatly declared: “I have not seen any irregularities or any inconsistencies that are outside the norm.”
In a text message early Thursday, Mr. Merrill said he did not intend to postpone the certification proceedings that would ultimately allow Mr. Jones to take office.
In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Jones’s transition team said the lawsuit was “a desperate attempt by Roy Moore to subvert the will of the people.”
“The election is over,” the statement added, “it’s time to move on.”
Whether or not the litigation is successful, it is certain to infuse a strain of drama into a day that state officials had plainly hoped would be procedural and perfunctory. The lawsuit from Mr. Moore, who has been accused of bigotry and sexual misconduct against teenage girls, was certainly late in coming: His lawyers filed the complaint at 10:33 p.m. on Wednesday, and his campaign announced it less than an hour later. Alabama officials are scheduled to certify the results during a 1 p.m. meeting Thursday at the State Capitol.
All Moore has to do is find a friendly judge willing to buy his argument that the certification has to be delayed until his case is heard.
Don't be surprised if this happens later this afternoon.
[UPDATE] Moore's challenge was too much even for the GOP, which certified Doug Jones's victory this afternoon and ended Moore's hopes.