Roy Moore Files Largely Frivolous Lawsuit Claiming ‘Voter Fraud’ In Senate Election
More than two weeks after the results of the Special Election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General, Republican nominee Roy Moore has filed a largely nonsensical lawsuit aimed at preventing the election from being certified over what he has claimed as “voter fraud”:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — 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.
Whether 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. Mr. Moore’s lawsuit 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.
Yet in some ways Mr. Moore’s lawsuit was not a surprise. He has a demonstrated penchant for last-minute legal theatrics — in 2015, he tried, unsuccessfully, to block same-sex marriages from moving forward hours before they were to begin — and he and his allies have spent the last several weeks signaling their unease with this month’s voting process. Indeed, while saying little else publicly, Mr. Moore has been soliciting contributions for an “election integrity fund.”
Mr. Moore’s court filing ran for dozens of pages, and it argued that returns in Jefferson County, the state’s most populous county, “confirmed election fraud.” It also said that turnout in the county was suspiciously high; it suggested that Mr. Jones had benefited from voter intimidation; and it argued that Mr. Moore’s opponents had spread “lies and fraudulent misrepresentations.”
At the least, Mr. Moore wants a judge to keep Mr. Merrill and other officials from certifying the election results on Thursday afternoon. But his lawyers also suggested that a judge consider calling a new election to fill the Senate seat that Jeff Sessions vacated to become United States attorney general.
In some ways, I suppose, this latest move by Moore is not much of a surprise. Notwithstanding the fact that the results of the December 12th election clearly show that he lost, Moore has refused to concede the race or to place any calls congratulating Senator-Elect Doug Jones on his win. Instead, he has continued to solicit donations in the wake of his loss and to claim to his supporters that he was the victim of some kind of conspirator. Utterly lacking in any of his arguments alleging ‘voter fraud,’ of course, has been any evidence of any voting irregularities whatsoever and certainly nothing on the scale of the kind of fraud that would account for a loss on his part by more than 20,000 votes. While this is certainly an unusual outcome given Alabama’s recent political history it is not without precedent and certainly not surprising given the allegations made against Moore during the final month of the campaign which, despite repeated efforts, he was never able to successfully rebut or discredit.
Looking at the actual complaint, there’s obviously very little to support Moore’s claims of voter fraud. His primary allegation seems to be the fact that turnout was higher than anticipated in traditionally Democratic counties, and that he did not receive voting percentages for a Republican nominee that one might expect for a race in Alabama. This, of course, isn’t anywhere close to being evidence of voter fraud and is also consistent with Moore’s own electoral history. Even in years where he’s managed to win elections, such as when he was re-elected to his old post as Chief Justice in 2012, Moore pulled in substantially smaller support than Republicans did statewide and far less than Mitt Romney did in the Presidential election that year. It’s also not surprising that turnout was higher in Democratic areas of the state than it has been in the state given both the national attention the race drew and the fact that Moore was a uniquely controversial candidate. Beyond this, Moore cites no credible evidence of voter fraud of any kind and no evidence that any such fraud would have had a substantial impact on the outcome of the election.
In any case, it’s obvious that this lawsuit will have no real impact on how things move forward. Alabama’s Secretary of State has already made clear that he intends to move forward today with certification of the election. Once he does that, the results will be final and the paperwork necessary for Jones to be sworn in when the Senate reconvenes next week will be forwarded to Washington. Moore will no doubt continue to allege fraud, and his supporters will continue to believe him, but he’s not going to stop the inevitable.
Here’s the Complaint: