AL Secretary of State discusses possibility of recount

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said the results of the U.S. Senate special election will be certified between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3.

Results Tuesday night showed Doug Jones winning by about 20,000 votes. There were also nearly 23,000 write-in votes.

"It's not the most write-in votes that have been cast in the history of this state, but it is a high margin, one of the highest margins that's ever been achieved in a competitive race like we've experienced today," Merrill said. "The other thing that needs to be noted, is that those write-in votes may or may not need to be properly acknowledged about who that ballot was cast for. That will be determined based on what the final spread is between Judge Moore and Doug Jones. Once that's been determined, it will be acknowledged as to whether or not those write-in votes, which that number may reduce because there are certain people that may receive write-in votes that may not be eligible to receive those votes, and if not they will not be properly acknowledged or duly noted."

Merrill said based on the margin, it doesn't appear an automatic recount would be triggered. However, they won't know that for sure until the results are certified.

The margin would have to be less than .5 percent for an automatic recount.

"It's not triggered yet based on the numbers that were introduced in the spread between the two candidates today," Merrill said Tuesday night. "That may actually occur after we see what kind of spread actually exists once all of the certification takes place. And that's the only time a recount can occur is once that certification has occurred."

If there isn't an automatic recount, the Moore campaign could request a recount. If they make that request, they will have to pay for it at a cost that hasn't been determined.

Merrill was asked if he thinks the Moore campaign should request a recount.

"I'm not a part of the Moore team, and I'm not an individual who would make a suggestion as to what they should do. They will do they feel is best and right for their campaign and supporters," Merrill said.

He remembers the last time Alabama had to do a recount.

"The last time I'm aware of it was in July of 2010 between Robert Bentley and Tim James, who were the second and third place finishers in the Republican nomination for governor in 2010. There was a spread of about 165-170 votes when the recount occurred. There was a change of about three or four votes and Bentley achieved the 2nd place designation, he faced Bradley Byrne in the runoff, defeated him, and was elected governor in November of that year."

Merrill called the turnout in Tuesday's election "extraordinarily high."

"It was about 1.3 million the last that I saw," Merrill said.  "About 33 to 35 percent. We have 3,328,117 registered voters, we have about 1,35 million people that voted in this general election."

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