Republican Roy Moore is doing everything he can to stop Democrat Doug Jones from being certified as the winner of a special election in Alabama to fill an open seat in the U.S. Senate, but his efforts were unable to prevent officials from acknowledging Jones’ victory on Thursday.
Early Wednesday morning, a complaint was filed on behalf of Moore alleging voter fraud had occurred in the December 12 Senate election. The complaint was filed less than 24 hours before Alabama election officials certified Jones as the victor, paving the way for his swearing-in to the Senate next month.
Doug Jones’ campaign subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. And on Thursday afternoon, Alabama Circuit Judge Hardwick rejected the complaint from the Moore campaign. But even before the judge had dismissed the case and Jones’s victory was certified, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said the complaint would have no impact on the election’s result.
“No change has occurred. Doug Jones will be certified at 1 p.m. this afternoon,” Merrill told TIME before the certification took place. Merrill added that Jones will officially be sworn into the Senate by Vice President Mike Pence on January 3.
In a statement following his victory’s certification on Thursday, Jones said he is “looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the new year.”
“As I said on election night, our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation. I will be an independent voice and work to find common ground with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get Washington back on track and fight to make our country a better place for all,” Jones said.
Seemingly unwilling to accept his opponent’s now-certified victory, Moore issued a statement late Thursday calling the election “fraudulent.”
“Election fraud experts across the country have agreed that this was a fraudulent election,” said Jones in a statement. Moore’s campaign did not clarify whether the statement constituted a concession. According to unofficial election results, Moore lost the race to Jones by 1.5 percentage points.
Roy Moore, already controversial for his comments about groups like Muslims and LGBT individuals, lost the Alabama special election after nine women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. Some of the women said they were teenagers when the alleged incidents occurred. Moore has denied any wrongdoing. The campaign has said that the complaint filed Wednesday includes an affidavit from Moore saying he had undergone a polygraph proving the truth of his denials.
Gloria Allred, an attorney representing Beverly Nelson Young, who had alleged Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, said Moore’s attempts to discredit the victims would not work.
“The people of Alabama have spoken and Moore lost. We are proud of the Alabama voters who believed the women,” Allred wrote in an e-mail to TIME. “Moore’s desperate efforts to challenge this election and cast doubt on Beverly and the other women who allege that they were victims were and will continue to be unsuccessful.”
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