Mickey Mouse and Jesus among write-in votes that helped sink Roy Moore

Controversy surrounding Roy Moore prompted the high number of write-ins 22,852 in total a margin that helped tip the election for Democrat Doug Jones

Votes for Mickey Mouse, football coach Nick Saban and any other Republican were among more than 22,000 write-ins in the Alabama Senate election the Democrat Doug Jones won this month by a little less than that number.

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Who is Doug Jones?

Early life

The 63-year-old grew up in the working-class city of Fairfield, just west of Birmingham, an area once dominated by the steel industry. His father was a steelworker and he spent time working in a mill when not in school

Democratic roots and the KKK

Jones got his start in government as an aide to the last Democrat to serve a full term in the Senate from Alabama, the late Howell Heflin.

Years before running for the Senate himself, Jones became known for prosecuting two KKK members for the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist church in 1963 which killed four black girls.

After his appointment as US attorney in Birmingham in 1997, Jones led a team of federal and state attorneys during trials that resulted in the convictions of Thomas Blanton Jr in 2001 and Bobby Frank Cherry in 2002.

Photograph: Marvin Gentry/X02859

Controversy surrounding Roy Moore, the first Republican to lose a Senate race in Alabama in 25 years, prompted the high number of write-ins: 22,852 in total, or 1.6% of the 1.3 million who voted.

Moore, a controversial rightwing hardliner who was endorsed by Donald Trump despite allegations of sexual misconduct towards a number of teenage women, received 651,969 votes.

Jones, who was certified as the winner this week after a legal challenge from Moore alleging widespread voter fraud and casting doubt on high turnout among African Americans, received 673,891 ballots: 21,922 more than Moore.

The outgoing Republican senator, Luther Strange, who was appointed to the post vacated by Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions but lost the primary to Moore, was the top write-in candidate in most counties.

Democrat
Democrat Doug Jones, who won the special US Senate election in Alabama. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/Reuters

State officials did not tally statewide numbers of write-ins but numbers submitted by counties showed that Strange received more than 7,500 votes, roughly a third of the write-in total.

Many such ballots followed the recommendation of the serving Alabama senator Richard Shelby, who said shortly before the vote he could not vote for Moore and would instead write in the name of another Republican.

Strange was followed by Lee Busby, a retired Marine colonel and former aide to White House chief of staff John Kelly, who was the top write-in candidate in at least 10 counties. Other names frequently written in included Sessions and Saban, the successful and revered University of Alabama football coach.

Quick guide

Gay bans and praise for Putin: the world according to Roy Moore

Homosexuality should be illegal

In 2005, Moore said: Homosexual conduct should be illegal. Inan interview televised on C-Span, Moore added: It is immoral. It is defined by the law as detestable. During a debate in September 2017, he went out of his way to bemoan the fact that sodomy [and] sexual perversion sweep the land.

September 11 attacks as divine punishment

In a speech in February, Moore appeared tosuggest that the terrorist attacks of September 11were the result of divine retribution against the United States and prophesized in the Book of Isaiah. In comments first reported by CNN, Moore quoted Isaiah 30:12-13, saying: Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon … therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance. Moore then noted: Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesnt it? He added: If you think thats coincidence, if you go to verse 25: There should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill, rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.”

Praise for Putin

Inan interview with the Guardianin August, Moore praised Putin for his views on gay rights. Maybe Putin is right. Maybe hes more akin to me than I know. The comments came after Moore suggested the United States could be described as the focus of evil in the world because we promote a lot of bad things. Moore specifically named gay marriage as one of those bad things.

‘Reds and yellows

At a rally earlier in September, Moore talked about reds and yellows fighting while discussing racial division in the United States. Moore justified thison Twitterby citing lyrics from the song Jesus Loves the Little Children. He wrote Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel.

Tracking livestock is communism

In 2006, Moore condemned a proposal for a national ID system for animals as more identifiable with communism than free enterprise. The proposal received attention after a cow in Alabama had been diagnosed with mad cow disease. Moore, who was then running for governor, was skeptical that the outbreak was real. Instead, Moore suggested it was a ruse intended to promote the tracking system.

State officials stressed ahead of the election that voters had to write-in the name of a living person in order for the vote to be tallied. That did not stop votes for Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Ronald Reagan, Jesus and UR Mom. There was also a vote for Sassy, the name of the horse Moore rode to the polls.

At least one person voted by write-in for Leigh Corfman, one of the women who raised an allegation against Moore, who is 70, about behaviour said to have taken place when he was in his 30s. Moore denied all such allegations.

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Leigh Corfman on her encounter with Roy Moore at age 14 – video

Other voters voted for another woman, Dianne Bentley, who divorced former Alabama governor Robert Bentley amid accusations that he was having an affair with an aide.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/30/alabama-election-roy-moore-write-in-votes