Judge Roy Moore still has strong support in many parts of the country. Discussion of the Alabama Senate special election continues to dominate social media. His partisans charge that the election was stolen from him, or that he was brought down by false allegations of misdeeds from 40 years ago.
Moore himself is adding fuel to the fire by his refusal to concede the race. He points out that Alabama law provides for an automatic recount if the margin of victory is less than .5 per cent. There is little chance that law will be applied, however, because the margin in this case is much wider: 1.5 per cent.
The Judge needs to concede the race, admit defeat, and move on to another challenge: clearing his name. It is useless to persist in claiming hope of victory when the battle is over, and lost. It is also divisive, and corrosive to our democracy.
It was corrosive when Al Gore did it in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. It is equally corrosive to see Hillary Clinton still sniping over a year after she lost the election. It’s corrosive, divisive, and annoying when they did it, and it’s the same when Judge Moore does it. But how can he move on, his supporters ask, when the race was stolen from him?
If It Isn’t Close They Can’t Cheat
The most common charge on social media is that Democrats were bused in from Mississippi to vote fraudulently. This resonates with Republican voters, who have long desired stricter voter identification laws. The Republican National Lawyers Association (NRLA) maintains a list of fraudulent voting activities. Republicans take the Democrats’ resistance to voter identification laws as prima facie evidence that Democrats know they benefit from fraudulent voting.
384 buses traveling along I-10, I-20, and U.S. Highway 82 would attract notice
But Roy Moore lost by 20,715 votes. It would take 384 full sized charter buses, filled to capacity at 54 people per bus, to make up that margin. 384 buses traveling along I-10, I-20, and U.S. Highway 82 would attract notice.
Furthermore, cheating in that manner requires cooperation from local election officials, who provide voter names and pretend the phony voters are real. But Alabama is an overwhelmingly Republican state, and there are not enough precincts without Republican officials to hide 21,000 phony votes. Finally, where do you find 21,000 willing people, and then keep them all quiet? My favorite Russian proverb is “Three men can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
There may well have been voter fraud in the race, but it was not enough to sway the election. Talk radio host and attorney Hugh Hewitt wrote a book called If It Isn’t Close They Can’t Cheat. This race wasn’t close, and whether or not they cheated, the margin of victory was greater than any advantage cheating could provide.
Moore is pinning his hopes also on as-yet uncounted absentee ballots from military voters. But again, there are not enough ballots to make up a 20,716-vote deficit. The most recent data available on Alabama military ballots is from the 2008 presidential election, in which 6,486 “military and overseas” ballots were cast, out of a total of 2.1 million votes. The Moore-Jones race had just over half that many voters, and there will probably be only about 4,000 military ballots: nowhere near enough to make up the deficit.
Roy Moore’s Last Battle
It’s easy for a disinterested observer to say “Move on.” A cultural warrior like Moore cannot move on, though, without another battle to fight. It’s not in his nature to give up, or to retire. So here is a suggestion for his next battle.
Judge Moore’s last ride should be to clear his name. Unless, of course, the allegations are true.
What cost Moore the election were the accusations against him by several women that he engaged in sexual activity with them 35 to 40 years ago that was inappropriate for their age at the time. Moore denied the accusations, but the accumulated weight of the media coverage overwhelmed his campaign. Doug Jones won because of Republicans who crossed over and voted for a Democrat.
If Moore is innocent of the charges brought against him by those women, he should sue them for defamation. He can set up a legal fund and ask for donations to help clear his name. If the allegations are false, he owes it to his supporters to examine them in a court of law.
If he proves his case, and can prove unethical behavior by the attorney representing one of the women, celebrity media lawyer Gloria Allred, perhaps he can get her disbarred. That prospect alone should boost his fundraising: Allred is a favorite bete noire of Republicans and conservatives.
Judge Moore’s last ride should be to clear his name. Unless, of course, the allegations are true. Then he should just retire quietly.