Great news: Luther Strange might stick around a few days longer; Moore: The exit polls say I won

Eh … probably not. When Alabama certifies the results of the special election held on December 12th, Democrat Doug Jones will take over the remaining three years left on Jeff Sessions’ Senate term, and Republican Luther Strange will leave the upper chamber. The man who lost that election now wants a judge to stop Alabama from completing the process, claiming that he was the victim of massive voter fraud:

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.”

The Republican secretary of state, John Merrill, isn’t impressed with Moore’s argument:

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.”

And earlier this morning, Merrill told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that he’s not going to sit around and wait for Moore’s lawsuit before doing his job:

If Moore’s lawsuit relies on a claim of election fraud, it’s not likely to get a sympathetic hearing in court, either. Voter fraud on the scale necessary to create a loss by thousands of votes, let alone tens of thousands, would have had to operate so openly and blatantly that a lawsuit would not be necessary. The state itself would have seen it and shut it down immediately, especially if it targeted a candidate from the dominant political party. (It won’t help matters that the “expert” cited by Moore’s campaign is a conspiracy theorist, either.)

The theory behind the “voter fraud” explanation of Moore’s loss, at least as expounded on social media, is that nefarious deep-pocketed “globalists” bankrolled a massive influx of out-of-state voters to throw the election to Jones. Never mind that the state has a restrictive voter-ID law and does not allow same-day registration at the voting station. Somehow, 22,000 people would have had to figure out how to get around those obstacles and find ways to cast ballots. And somehow, they knew just how many to get, too.

Just where did all those people come from, and how did they get to Alabama? Armies have invaded foreign countries with fewer people; the logistics alone of such an enterprise would have been impossible to hide.  If a bus holds 200 people each, it would take more than 100 buses full up to get voters into the state and drive them around to various precincts where the ringleaders somehow knew that duly registered voters wouldn’t have already cast their ballots. And how did they find 22,000 or more people to conduct this exercise, all of whom just happened to be available on December 12th, without blowing their cover?

Voter fraud has the ability to impact elections only on small-scale differences, not when the vote differential runs into the thousands. Voter-ID laws make it extremely difficult to conduct the kind of fraud alleged by Moore’s defenders even on a scale of hundreds. That’s the reason why conservatives fought hard to get such laws passed in Alabama and other states — to instill confidence in the results of elections such as these.

Moore lost. That’s the reality, whether Moore accepts it or not, and whether he concedes or not. Doug Jones will shortly take a seat in the US Senate after Republicans blew a can’t-miss opportunity to hold it by nominating a crank. Whether Jones manages to hold it for more than three years depends mainly on whether Republicans learned a lesson from this episode, or whether they prefer to live in fantasyland. The judge will almost certainly tell Moore to face up to reality:

Update: The Moore lawsuit argues that voter fraud had to have occurred because — wait for it — the pre-election and exit polls showed him winning:

I’m so old I can recall conservatives scoffing at the notion that exit polls were more accurate than actual vote counts. The exit polls, in this case, predicted only that the race would be very close, which it turned out to be. As far as the pre-election polls go, those were all over the place, but that only reflects the volatility and unpredictability of special elections. Turnout models matter in polling, and no pollster had a good read on this election’s turnout.

As we often say: the only poll that really matters is the one taken on Election Day. In a state with a solid voter-ID law, that poll is even more reliable.

It’s over. Go home.

Update: This review of some common claims regarding alleged voter fraud in Alabama might come in handy if you’ve heard of Bordalama or alleged busloads of black voters cited by a “State Election Integrity Board.” It’s all fiction.