Alabama judge rejects Roy Moore bid to halt US Senate race certification

Dec 28 (Reuters) - Alabama's secretary of state said on Thursday that Democrat Doug Jones would be certified the winner of the state's U.S. Senate race, and a state judge denied a legal challenge by Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign was derailed by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. Jones won the vacant seat by about 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percentage points, election officials said. That made him the first Democrat in a quarter of a century to win a Senate seat in Alabama. The seat was previously held by Republican Jeff Sessions, who was tapped by U.S. President Donald Trump as attorney general.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was expected to certify the election results at a meeting of the state canvassing board, which also includes Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall.

RELATED: Roy Moore on Alabama's Senate election day

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Roy Moore on Senate election day in Alabama
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Roy Moore on Senate election day in Alabama
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore rides his horse after voting in Gallant, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks to the media after he cast his ballot in Gallant, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
"Make America Great Again" hats lie on a table at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore's election night party in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks to the media after he cast his ballot in Gallant, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Judge Roy Moore rides away on his horse after voting at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A saxophonist entertains the guests gathered for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore's election night party in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Judge Roy Moore emerges to speak to the media after voting at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Supporters perform the Pledge of Allegiance at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore's election night party in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore walks his horses after voting in Gallant, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks to the media after he cast his ballot in Gallant, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Judge Roy Moore ties his horse to a fence as he arrives to vote at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Roy Moore, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alabama, arrives on horseback to a polling location in Gallant, Alabama, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Democrat Doug Jones and Moore made their election eve pitches to Alabama voters in settings that evoked the cultural and political divide that's come to define the two parties in modern America. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MONTGOMERY, AL - DECEMBER 12: Mike Tate holds his son, Seth Tate, as he and his family await the arrival of Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore for his election night party in the RSA Activity Center on December 12, 2017 in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Moore is facing off against Democrat Doug Jones in the special election for the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore (L) and his wife Kayla ride their horses to the polling station to vote in Gallant, AL, on December 12, 2017. The state of Alabama holds a closely-watched special election for US Senate featuring Republican candidate Roy Moore, who is endorsed by President Donald Trump despite being accused of molesting teenaged girls. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore (C) departs on his horse, Sassy, at the polling station after voting in Gallant, AL, on December 12, 2017 The state of Alabama holds a closely-watched special election for US Senate featuring Republican candidate Roy Moore, who is endorsed by President Donald Trump despite being accused of molesting teenaged girls. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Moore declined to concede defeat despite being urged by Trump to do so.

A spokesman for Merrill said it has received legal filings showing that an Alabama judge denied Moore's request to block certification of the results of the Dec. 12 election in a decision shortly before the canvassing board was to meet.

Moore's challenge alleged there had been potential voter fraud that denied him a chance of victory. His filing on Wednesday in the Montgomery Circuit Court sought to halt the meeting scheduled to ratify Jones' win on Thursday.

Janet Porter, a spokeswoman for Moore's campaign, said in an interview with CNN earlier on Thursday that the challenge aimed to ensure that votes were properly counted.

Regarding the claim of voter fraud, Merrill told CNN that more than 100 cases had been reported. "We've adjudicated more than 60 of those. We will continue to do that," he said.

A day after the election, Merrill said it was "highly unlikely" that Jones, 63, would not be certified as the winner.

Seating Jones will narrow the Republican majority in the Senate to 51 of 100 seats.

"The election is over, it's time to move on," Jones spokesman Sam Coleman said in a statement.

Republican lawmakers in Washington had distanced themselves from Moore and called for him to drop out of the race after he was accused by several women of sexual assault or misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s.

Moore has denied wrongdoing and Reuters has not been able to independently verify the allegations. (Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver, Katanga Johnson, Letitia Stein in Detroit and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Bill Trott)

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