About two hours before Democrat Doug Jones eked out a surprise victory in Alabama’s Senate race, a speaker at Republican Roy Moore’s election party called on God to protect the election from voter fraud.
For Moore and his supporters, the razor-thin loss (48.4 percent to 49.9 percent) came as a sign God was working in a mysterious way.
“When the vote is this close, it’s not over,” Moore said after Jones’ victory speech.
“We have to wait on God and let this process play out.”
Polls offered mixed results ahead of Tuesday’s special election. Despite a campaign rocked by accusations of child molestation more than three decades ago, Moore, the former Alabama chief justice, seemed favored to win the seat vacated by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A Democrat hasn’t won a Senate seat in Alabama in 25 years.
Some blamed financier George Soros, a liberal donor and the target of a longstanding right-wing, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Others pointed the finger at scheming Democrats. Most urged Moore not to concede, even after President Donald Trump congratulated Jones.
At the end of a short speech, Moore urged his supporters to return home. He vowed to pick up the fight again in the morning.
Democrats had feared that voter suppression, including through Alabama’s voter ID law, could tilt the election in Moore’s favor. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights group running a voter protection hotline on Tuesday, told HuffPost earlier Tuesday it had received about 300 calls.
The voter ID law, passed in 2011 and implemented in 2014, requires Alabama voters to show one of 10 acceptable forms of identification at the polls. Voting rights advocates say such laws disproportionately affect black, elderly and low-income voters.
After the law took effect, the state closed 31 Department of Motor Vehicles locations in mostly black areas, making it more difficult to obtain necessary forms of ID.
In 2015, the Department of Transportation investigated the closures to determine whether they violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by deliberately targeting black neighborhoods. The agency reached a settlement with the state to add 2,000 hours of operation to the DMVs in the affected counties.
The state has also decreased the number of polling places by 7 percent from 2012 to 2016, according to one analysis, despite the population growing by 2 percent.