Alabama officials to certify Jones as Senate winner despite Moore challenge
Alabama Senate candidates Roy Moore (left) and Doug Jones (right). Images via screenshots and Wikimedia Commons.

Alabama's secretary of state said on Thursday officials would certify Democrat Doug Jones the winner of the state's U.S. Senate race, despite a challenge filed the day before by Roy Moore, the conservative Republican whose campaign was derailed by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Moore's challenge said there had been potential voter fraud in the Dec. 12 election that denied him a chance of victory. His filing on Wednesday in the Montgomery Circuit Court sought to halt a state canvassing board meeting scheduled to ratify Jones' win on Thursday.

Jones won the seat, vacated when Jeff Sessions was tapped by U.S. President Donald Trump as attorney general, by about 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percentage points, election officials said. That made him the first Democrat in a quarter of a century to win a Senate seat in the Republican stronghold of Alabama.

Moore declined to concede defeat despite being urged by Trump to do so.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was to meet on Thursday with other members of the canvassing board, Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall, to certify the result.

"Doug Jones will be certified today," Merrill told CNN in a phone call.

Seating Jones will narrow the Republican majority in the Senate to 51 of 100 seats.

Republican lawmakers in Washington had distanced themselves from Moore and called for him to drop out of the race after he was accused by several women of sexual assault and misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. He has denied wrongdoing and Reuters has not been able to independently verify the allegations.

In a statement on Wednesday, Moore said his complaint also contained an affidavit from him that he passed a polygraph examination that cleared him of sexual misconduct.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver and Katanga Johnson, writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)