If Moore withdrawn but wins, election to be voided

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 11/14/17

Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday if Roy Moore or the Republican Party asked his name to be suspended in the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Doug Jones could win the election with the most votes — but if Moore got the most votes, the election would be voided and a new election would be held.

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If Moore withdrawn but wins, election to be voided

Posted

Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday if Roy Moore or the Republican Party asked his name to be suspended in the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Doug Jones could win the election with the most votes — but if Moore got the most votes, the election would be voided and a new election would be held.

Merrill, speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Jasper, took time to answer election questions in the wake of underage sexual accusations against Moore, the Republican nominee in the called Dec. 12 U.S. Senate race against Jones. The seat was vacated by Jeff Sessions, who is now attorney general.

Polls over the weekend showed the race, which Moore had led by large numbers, to be tightening. U.S. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday Moore should quit the race, while another woman accused Moore of sexual misconduct in the 1970s when she was 16.

McConnell had helped fund current U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in his failed primary campaign against Moore. Strange continues to hold the seat until the winner of the called election takes office.

The Washington Post reported recently that Moore, then 32, allegedly initiated sexual conduct with a 14-year-old and pursued romantic relationships with other teenage girls at that period. Moore has denied the charges and said this weekend he would sue the newspaper.

A new accuser on Monday, Beverly Young Nelson, said Moore, now 70, sexually assaulted her when she was 16. She held a news conference Monday with attorney Gloria Allred.

At the end of his prepared comments Monday, Merrill was asked from the audience about Gov. Kay Ivey’s authority to call for a new election. Merrill said Ivey called for the current election, as Gov. Robert Bentley had scheduled the election during the June primary next year. Once he resigned and she took office, Ivey moved the election process up to late this year.

Merrill said he has been asked by Fox News and CNN about the election before, and that he was scheduled to be on those cable networks that night.

He said he would be surprised, as some have suggested, that Ivey would move the election again, noting Ivey had made a statement to that effect over the weekend.

“We’re already in mid-stream. When she changed before, we weren’t already in the election process,” Merrill said, noting hundreds of people in the state have already voted absentee since Oct. 18. “We have 29 days left in the election today.” 

Merrill outlined all the scenarios. If Moore and Republicans make no changes, either Moore or Jones can win, although he noted write-in votes will also be held.

He outlined where Moore changes his mind and suspends or disqualifies himself from being a candidate and issues a written statement to Merrill’s office that can be filed. In that case, if Moore gets the most votes, “the election is null and void,” Merrill said. “It starts the same process all over again, just like we’ve been through.” In that scenario, if Jones has the most votes, he is elected senator.

If the state party disavows Moore as the candidate and submits that to Merrill in writing, and Moore gets the most votes, the election is null and void and the process has to be restarted. If Jones gets the most votes in this case, he is elected senator.

Strange would remain senator in any of the scenarios where Moore’s votes are null and void and the process restarts, Merrill said, staying in office until a new senator is finally elected.

The last day to submit removal of Moore’s name would be 5 p.m. on the day before the election, Merrill said.

Merrill said the only way that Jones goes to Washington is if he gets the most votes.

“We’ve got these liberals talking all over the United States saying ... if Doug Jones comes in second, he’s still going. He can get 20 percent of the vote and he’s still going to Washington,” Merrill said. “Well, they may know something but they don’t know enough about Alabama law. So it is always best to keep your mouth shut when you don’t know.” 

Merrill said no one’s name can be on the ballot as the Republican nominee except for Moore at this point between now and Dec. 12. “We’re not reprinting ballots,” he said.

He asked Walker County Probate Judge Rick Allison, who was attending the meeting, if the county had received their ballots. Allison said they had not arrived in the county. Merrill replied, “They’re in Birmingham. They’re coming to you right now. There are no substituting. That’s not going to happen. That’s just the way it is.”