Doug Jones officially declared winner over Roy Moore

BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Democrat Doug Jones’ historic victory over Republican Roy Moore was declared official Thursday as Alabama election officials certified him the winner of the special Senate election earlier this month, despite claims of voter irregularities from his opponent.

Jones defeated Moore on Dec. 12 by about 22,000 votes in a stunning victory in a deeply red state. It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama. Moore was dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls that occurred decades ago.

The state’s former chief justice refused to concede and even filed a last-ditch lawsuit hours before the certification, but a judge rejected his claims. Alabama election officials also found no evidence of voting irregularities.

A spokesman for Jones earlier called Moore’s lawsuit a “desperate attempt … to subvert the will of the people.”

“The election is over. It’s time to move on,” Sam Coleman wrote in an email.

Jones will be sworn in on Jan. 3, narrowing the GOP’s advantage in the U.S. Senate to 51-49. He takes over the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The term expires in January 2021.

Jones is a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing.

Moore’s campaign was deeply wounded by the sexual misconduct accusations. Moore denied the accusations and said in the lawsuit that he had passed a polygraph test to prove they are false.

Moore’s attorney wrote in the wide-ranging complaint that he believed there were irregularities during the election, including that voters may have been brought in from other states. He attached a statement from a poll worker that she had noticed licenses from Georgia and North Carolina as people signed in to vote.

The complaint also noted the higher-than-expected turnout in the race, particularly in Jefferson County, and said Moore’s numbers were suspiciously lower than straight-ticket Republican voting in about 20 Jefferson County precincts. The complaint asked for a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue as election integrity should matter to everyone,” Moore said in a statement Wednesday.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said he had not found any evidence of voter fraud, but that his office will investigate any complaint Moore submits.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine, said Moore’s complaint did not raise the sort of issues that lead courts to overturn an election. He said Moore’s complaint might just be a way for him to fundraise and throw “red meat to his loyal supporters.”

Moore has sent several fundraising emails to supporters asking for donations to investigate claims of voter fraud.