Roy Moore’s Claim of ‘Systematic Voter Fraud’ Is at Least As Plausible As Trump’s

Roy Moore, who is still refusing to concede that he lost the Senate election in Alabama on December 12, has asked a state court to block certification of the results, arguing that his opponent, Doug Jones, benefited from "systematic voter fraud." Moore's recalcitrance is too much even for Donald Trump, who supported the Republican candidate despite the credible allegations of sexual abuse he faced. The president, showing rare magnanimity, congratulated Jones on the night of the election, and two days later his press secretary said Moore's concession speech "should have already taken place."

Yet as Matt Welch pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Moore's allegation that Jones stole 20,000 or so votes in Alabama is at least as plausible as Trump's claim that he would have won the popular vote in last year's presidential election if it weren't for "millions of people who voted illegally." Jones beat Moore by 1.5 percentage points, while Hillary Clinton received 2.9 million more votes than Trump, a bit more than 2 percent of the total cast.

Moore cites "three national Election Integrity experts" who concluded "with a reasonable degree of statistical and mathematical certainty" that "election fraud occurred." Particularly suspicious, in their view, is the 47 percent voter turnout in Jefferson County, where Jones beat Moore by a margin of more than 2 to 1. Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham, is the state's most populous county and 43 percent black, compared to 27 percent for the state as a whole.

The results in Jefferson County do not look so suspicious when you consider that Moore was repelling Democrats and socially tolerant Republicans with his views on race, religion, and homosexuality long before he was accused of sexually abusing teenagers, which presumably did not make them keener to have him represent them in the Senate. Add the Jones campaign's concerted efforts to increase turnout by black voters, and what Moore sees as evidence of fraud looks more like evidence of revulsion's power to motivate participation in an off-year election.

Moore's desperation is evident from an affidavit accompanying his complaint in which he states that he "successfully completed a polygraph test confirming the representations of misconduct made against him during the campaign are completely false." According to the affidavit, "the results of the examination reflected that I did not know, nor had I ever had any sexual contact with any of these individuals." That statement contradicts Moore's admission that he knew at least two of the women who said he dated them when they were teenagers, which gives you a sense of how reliable so-called lie detectors are. Leaving aside Moore's inconsistency and the peudoscience of polygraph tests, his affidavit does nothing to bolster his complaint, since the truth of the charges against him has no bearing on whether people actually voted the way that the soon-to-be-official numbers indicate.

Thin as it is, Moore's case for throwing out the election results in Alabama is stronger than Trump's argument that he acually won the popular vote last year. After he took office, Trump told members of Congress somewhere between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election. He still has not provided any evidence to back up that claim, possibly because there is none.

Update: Today Alabama Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick rejected Moore's petition, and the Alabama State Canvassing Board certified the vote. The board consists of Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall, and Secretary of State John Merrill, all Republicans. Merrill voted for Moore but said he has seen no evidence that fraud affected the outcome of the race.