Clinging to the spotlight, Roy Moore demands new vote because black voter surge must have been fraud

The disgraced, defeated Senate candidate is trying to block certification of the election that rejected him.

Roy Moore, center, huddles with staffers on election night. CREDIT: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Roy Moore, center, huddles with staffers on election night. CREDIT: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Failed Senate candidate and accused serial child predator Roy Moore (R) asked a judge to block the final certification of his election defeat late Wednesday, citing a trio of crackpots and mathematicians to claim that the unusually high black voter turnout in the race is proof of fraud.

Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican who reportedly voted for Moore himself, has previously dismissed right-wing claims of voting irregularities in the race. His office investigated some of the rumors that state conservatives had promoted about illegitimate voting during the race, the Washington Post notes, and disproved them.

Merrill told the New York Times on Wednesday he saw no reason to delay the certification of Moore’s defeat. In an interview with ThinkProgress prior to the election, Merrill described his history of closely pursuing election fraud claims and bristled at the notion that voting laws and practices in the state suppress turnout.

The failed Republican’s court filing cites statistical analysis from three men purporting to show that voting patterns in Alabama’s heavily African-American urban cores were impossible without organized voter fraud.

“The reported results were contrary to most of the impartial, independent polls conducted prior to the Special Election and in contrast to exit polls,” Moore’s lawyer writes in the suit.

Moore’s technical argument, such as it is, centers on voting in Jefferson County. Jefferson County is home to the city of Birmingham, where KKK members firebombed a Baptist church during the Civil Rights Movement and killed four young black girls. Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones (D), was the prosecutor who successfully convicted some of the firebombers decades later. The case became the foundation of his political resume.

Moore’s lawyer describes the results in 20 precincts from Jefferson County — where Republicans turned out in far lower numbers than usual for an election where their party’s man was accused by numerous women of having pursued sexual contact with them in their teen years while Moore was in his 30s — as “unjustifiable” and “implausible.”

For decades, conservative political activists around the country have used such claims to discredit election results they don’t like. Often, those same activists have worked hard to promote laws that make it harder for poor people to vote. In some cases where such unscrupulous figures hold meaningful power over how elections are conducted, they have suppressed minority voting even more explicitly by cutting back early voting hours or restricting the number of machines available in precincts expected to break blue.

One of Moore’s three experts is a mathematician named Richard Charnin. While the Moore camp describes Charnin as an election integrity expert, he maintains a blog subtitled “JFK Conspiracy And Systemic Election Fraud Analysis.” Charnin is something of an equal-opportunity huckster. His claims that Hillary Clinton’s campaign must have cheated to beat Bernie Sanders in 2016 primaries were picked up by more mainstream election integrity analysts, for example, even though the patterns he fixated upon also had simpler, benign explanations. Right-wing trickster Roger Stone also picked up Charnin’s claims last year to argue that the Clinton-Trump election was being rigged before it had happened.

The campaign also cites two self-styled elections experts named Phil Evans and James Condit. Evans is an electrical engineer who crafted his own bespoke statistical analysis tool for reviewing election results, and says that his own analysis suggests the Alabama outcome was beyond improbable.

Condit, meanwhile, is famous in right-wing circles for promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The Anti-Defamation League notes that he “often blames the Jews for major world problems” and that “Condit broadcast ads that linked the 9/11 attacks to Israel” in 2005. Like Moore himself, Condit has repeatedly sought elected office.

“Per the opinion of James Condit the machines used are not able to ensure electronic vote alteration has not occurred,” Moore’s lawyer writes in the suit. “Thus, expert testimony has confirmed Election Fraud.”

The filing also argues that outside-money ads reminding voters of Moore’s well-documented history of targeting teen girls for sexual contact while he was in his 30s amounted to “voter intimidation.” Some of the ads noted that whether or not a person has voted in a given election is public record. Moore’s lawyer cites a Breitbart article which characterized that reminder of the choice between a suspected pedophile and someone not accused of such as “voter intimidation tactics.”

The Moore camp began setting the stage for today’s vote-fraud claims on election night. As it became clear Jones had won the race, speakers addressing the crowd at Moore’s election party invoked the specter of fraud. Even before the night of his defeat, Moore and his posse smeared whole categories of legitimate voters.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” Moore said in a statement announcing the court filing. “We call on Secretary of State [John] Merrill to delay certification until there is a thorough investigation of what three independent election experts agree took place: election fraud sufficient to overturn the outcome of the election.”

The statement also notes that Moore has now taken a polygraph purporting to show that he did not, in fact, serially prey upon teenage girls during his time as District Attorney. Polygraphs are notoriously fudge-able, and capable only of proving what a person believes to be true.

Merrill was scheduled to formally sign off on the election, which Moore lost by roughly 22,000 votes, on Thursday afternoon. The Moore campaign’s circuit court filing Wednesday would suspend that final formality if a judge agrees — and prolong his time in the spotlight, which longtime Alabama political columnist John Archibald has argued is Moore’s primary motivation to pursue offices he doesn’t actually want to hold.

“We will continue with our process as scheduled unless the courts instruct use to act otherwise,” a spokesman for Merrill told the Post.