The announcement came hours after Moore’s lawyers filed a request late on Wednesday for a restraining order to stop Alabama’s canvassing board from certifying Jones’ victory. In a statement accompanying that filing, Moore’s team called for a new special election and claimed Alabama “will suffer irreparable harm if the election results are certified without preserving and investigating all the evidence of potential fraud”.
But even before Montgomery circuit judge Johnny Hardwick denied Moore’s request in a Thursday ruling, state officials rejected Moore’s claims. The certification paved the way for Jones to be sworn in as Alabama’s junior senator when the Senate reconvenes in January.
After that was done, at the state capitol on Thursday afternoon, Jones said in a statement: “I am 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.”
Moore, who was accused of assaulting teenage girls while in his 30s, lost to Jones in the 12 December race by around 20,000 votes, a margin of 1.5%. It was the first time Alabama had elected a Democrat to the US Senate in 25 years.
Moore refused to concede, citing unsubstantiated rumors of election fraud and claiming high Democratic turnout was improbable. The Republican remained undeterred after state officials certified Jones’s win, issuing a statement that continued to suggest foul play despite there being no evidence to support his claims.
“I have stood for the truth about God and the constitution for the people of Alabama,” Moore said. “I have no regrets. To God be the glory.”
A spokesman for Jones called Moore’s late-stage legal challenge “a desperate attempt … to subvert the will of the people” and said: “The election is over. It’s time to move on.”
State officials also disputed any claim of inconsistencies in the voting process. John H Merrill, the Alabama secretary of state, told CNN: “Will this affect anything? The short answer to that is no.”
Merrill met Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, and attorney general, Steve Marshall, on Thursday to certify the election result. Jones will be sworn in by vice-president Mike Pence on 3 January.
With respect to Moore’s allegations of voter fraud, Merrill said that while more than 100 such cases had been reported, the state had “adjudicated more than 60 of those”. “We will continue to do that,” he said.
Moore’s court filing, which spanned dozens of pages, pointed to turnout exceeding expectations in Jefferson County, where Jones won more than 68% of the vote and was buoyed in part by high turnout among black voters.
The filing cited “experts” including Richard Charnin, who has a blog dedicated to John F Kennedy conspiracy theories and has also floated conspiracies over the 2016 death of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer. Another cited authority, James Condit Jr, has espoused antisemitic views and promoted conspiracies about a supposed Jewish takeover of the Vatican.
Moore has separately sent fundraising emails which solicited donations to investigate alleged voter fraud.
The Alabama Senate seat was left vacant by Jeff Sessions, who was chosen by Donald Trump to serve as attorney general.
Moore, who had the backing of Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, secured the Republican nomination in September. The former judge was already a controversial figure, having declared among other beliefs that homosexuality should be illegal and that Muslims should not serve in Congress, and having twice been removed from the state supreme court for unconstitutional actions.
In the months leading up to the election, Moore was accused of sexual misconduct towards a number of women. Some of the women, who came forward after decades amid a watershed moment around sexual harassment, said Moore molested them when they were teenagers.
Moore denied the accusations and attempted to discredit the women but has failed to turn up evidence to contradict their claims. In his legal challenge to the election result, his team said he had taken a polygraph test in an attempt to disprove the allegations.
Shortly after the election, Trump, who backed Moore’s opponent in the primary, called on the beaten man to concede.
“I would certainly say he should,” the president told reporters on 15 December.
Trump endorsed Moore against Jones, pointing to his denials of the allegations against him and insisting any candidate would be preferable to a “liberal Democrat” like Jones. Trump has himself been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. He denies all such allegations.
Jones’s victory has narrowed the Republican Senate majority to 51-49, although he was not seated in time to vote on the GOP tax reform bill.