Write-in votes played a role in Doug Jones' victory over Roy Moore and Nick Saban may have been a big factor
- Democrat Doug Jones won the Alabama special election for the vacant U.S. Senate seat over Republican Roy Moore.
- The margin of Jones' victory was smaller than the total number of write-in ballots cast.
- Alabama head coach Nick Saban was likely a popular write-in candidate with one group producing an ad showing Alabamians how to properly write his name in.
On Tuesday Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in an upset for the Senate seat vacated by former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Jones won by a close margin, beating Moore by fewer than 21,000 votes in an election that included over 1.3 million votes cast. Adding to the razor-thin margin of Jones' victory is the fact that there were 22,819 write-in ballots cast in the election, meaning that write-in ballots possibly played a role in swinging the election.
This, as you expected, is where Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban comes in.
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With some Republican voters in the state turned off by the allegations against Roy Moore, but unwilling to vote for a Democrat, Saban presented a neutral, third option that allowed them to exercise their right to vote and endorse Alabama pride without violating any personal moral codes.
While Saban has no known political aspirations, he is a popular figure in the state of Alabama thanks to his coaching prowess that has helped the Crimson Tide along to four national championships in his 10 years with the program. Writing in a coaches name is not completely uncommon in politics, as is evidence by the many calls from NBA fans for a Popovich/Kerr ticket in 2020.
One voter who spoke with MSNBC said he wrote in Saban's name after having a crisis of conscious in the voting booth.
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It's likely he wasn't alone. Buzz of a Nick Saban write-in campaign for voters who felt themselves without a candidate grew so much that a Democrat super PAC that looking to show Alabamians how to vote for a write-in candidate used Saban's name as an example in an ad.
Nick Saban did not swing the election all by himself. It would be a stretch to assume that almost every write-in vote was for Saban, that every person who had voted Saban would have otherwise voted for Moore, and that none of the voters root for Auburn.
That said, it looks like we will soon know just how many of the write-in votes Saban got in the election thanks to a rule in Alabama that calls for all write-in votes to be counted when the number of write-in ballots is greater than the margin between candidates, which looks to be the case here.
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