To the relief of many (including many Republicans), Roy Moore was defeated tonight in a very close election. Almost 2 percent of voters elected to vote for write-in candidates. That margin may have been the determinative factor for Doug Jones to prevail. I have been a critic of Moore for many years and obviously did not hide my view that he represented both a legal and moral hazard. In my view, his defeat was far better for the GOP than his victory. His presence in the Senate would have presented a constantly corrosive and divisive element for the GOP in seeking to defend the Senate majority in 2018.
President Donald Trump issued a thoughtful and refreshingly fair tweet in response to the election:
Moore however is declining to concede and his campaign insist that, if the votes are less than a half percentage point (including write-ins), there must be a recount under state law. The recount is mandatory but only if within a half a point. That would require write-ins to count as the same as other candidates on the ballot.
The law was passed in 2016. The Secretary of State has stated that the write-in votes could apply in the calculation once they are found to be valid. Notably, many people writing in candidates will select fantasy or funny choices like Mickey Mouse or George Washington. Those votes are invalid because the write in candidate must be eligible to be a Senator for Alabama (including age, residency etc).
It is also possible for the Moore campaign to demand a recount regardless of the percentage, which is allowed so long as they are willing to pay for it.