Two days after losing Alabama’s special Senate election, Republican nominee Roy Moore has yet to concede the race – and a small cheering section in conservative media is hoping that he never will.
Moore, who suggested on election night that the race would go to a recount, said in a Wednesday web video that late-counted ballots could change the results of the election.
“We have not received the final count to include military and provisional ballots,” Moore said. “This has been a very close race, and we are awaiting certification by the secretary of state.”
Moore, who lost by 20,715 votes, has received no official support from his party since digging in. President Trump congratulated Democratic Sen.-elect Doug Jones on election night. Alabama’s GOP, which stood by Moore when national Republicans abandoned him, congratulated Jones on Wednesday. At Thursday’s White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed surprise that Moore had not made a concession call.
“Sounds like it should’ve already taken place,” she said.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who sided with Moore’s campaign during several election controversies, has said that the election will be certified Dec. 28. But at the same time, Merrill’s office has had to brush off conspiracy theories promoted by pro-Moore websites, which have suggested that the results were tainted by fraud.
One theory, which went viral before being debunked by Snopes.com, was that multiple black voters were caught trying to vote with fake IDs. (More than 95 percent of black voters supported Jones, giving him his winning margin.) Another, also debunked quickly, was that vans of illegal voters were seen somewhere in the state.
Merrill’s office confirmed that there had been no actual reports of that kind of behavior. “There’s a lot of misdirection that comes in around Election Day,” said John Bennett, a spokesman for Merrill. “We got no reports that caused us enough concern to act against them.” Alabama’s voter ID law, which has survived tough legal challenges, had previously led to four convictions of voter impersonation.
But there were more theories, some of them tweeted at Moore when he shared his video. One suggested that people seen celebrating at Jones’s party, who admitted coming in from out of state, might have voted illegally. (In a news clip, they clumsily said they had come to “vote and canvass together.”)
Another, promoted by the conservative site Big League Politics, suggested that the election night count – in which urban Mobile and Jefferson counties came in last, putting Jones in the lead – was suspicious. In the election’s final days, Moore’s campaign had cited an inaccurate Big League Politics story to claim that women who accused Moore of sexual assault had been found and directed to the media by Republican strategist Tim Miller; Moore’s Twitter account shared the story after Breitbart News aggregated it.
Big League Politics also shared a rumor that went viral when posted by the Gateway Pundit, a conservative group blog that since the start of this year has sent a reporter to the White House briefing. Citing a post on Reddit by a user named Warren4Prez, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft told readers that “Democrat activists are calling on black voters in Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina to travel to Alabama to vote for the far left candidate Doug Jones.”
The post, published 28 days before the election, suggested just that. “African-Americans in Mississippi: we need you to make a short trip to Alabama on December 12 and vote against the right-wing Republican Senate candidate and child molester Roy Moore,” wrote Warren4Prez.
But in an interview, the Redditor behind the post confirmed that it was intended “as an obvious troll.”
“I was trying to get a rise out of alt-right people, and then they really went for it,” said Warren4Prez, who spoke on the phone after proving that the account was theirs. “I got like 100 posts on Reddit, telling me I was being hated by everybody. Democrats started posting stuff accusing me of trying to discredit them.”
Warren4Prez posted the fake request on political Reddit pages for every state that bordered Alabama; it was removed from all but the Mississippi page. In an email, Hoft did not say whether he contacted Warren4Prez to verify the information, but he did point to an update at the bottom of the viral Gateway Pundit post.
“Liberals say these are fake Reddit posts(?)” Hoft wrote. “Regardless, the posts are still up on Reddit and the posters are still encouraging Democrats to cheat.”