ONTD Political

Charles Darwin gets 4,000 write-in votes in Athens against Paul Broun

11:26 pm - 11/09/2012
A follow-up to a post a month back: GA Congressman: evolution is "lies from hell"

By Jim Thompson
updated Friday, November 9, 2012 - 2:00pm

Charles Darwin, the 19th-century naturalist who laid the foundations for evolutionary theory, received nearly 4,000 write-in votes in Athens-Clarke County in balloting for the 10th Congressional District seat retained Tuesday by five-year incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Broun.

A spot check Thursday of some of the other counties in the east Georgia congressional district revealed a smattering of votes for Darwin, although it wasn’t always clear, based on information provided by elections offices in those counties, whether those votes were cast in the 10th District race. And because the long-dead Darwin was not a properly certified write-in candidate, some counties won’t be tallying votes for him, whether in the congressional race or other contests.

A campaign asking voters to write-in Darwin’s name in the 10th Congressional District, which includes half of Athens-Clarke County, began after Broun, speaking at a sportsmen’s banquet at a Hartwell church, called evolution and other areas of science “lies straight from the pit of hell.”

Jim Leebens-Mack, the University of Georgia plant biologist who started a “Darwin for Congress” Facebook page in the wake of Broun’s remarks, said the number of Darwin votes cast in the race were “in the ballpark, a little bit more” than he had expected.

The Darwin votes, Leebens-Mack added, made it “clear to me, and I hope everybody, that Paul Broun is vulnerable” in terms of continued re-election to Congress. Broun was first elected in a special 2007 election, and won re-election in 2008, 2010 and again on Tuesday in a newly drawn 10th District, reconfigured as part of congressional reapportionment.

“The campaign for 2014 started yesterday,” Leebens-Mack said Thursday, adding that the next step will be identifying potential candidates for the next congressional election.

In a Thursday interview, Leebens-Mack pointed out that in addition to the write-in votes cast for Darwin, the 10th District contest attracted a large number of other write-in ballots. “Votes” were cast in the race for “Anyone but Broun,” “Anyone else” and various permutations of that sentiment, with “Big Bird” and “Bill Nye, The Science Guy” also earning ballots.

The only legitimate write-in candidate in the race, little-known Brian Russell Brown of Augusta, who has mounted write-in campaigns for other high-level offices in recent years, received a large number of votes in Athens, claiming more than 200 ballots.

In addition to the write-in votes cast for Darwin in the 10th Congressional District race, a handful of votes for the long-dead British scientist were cast in other races on Athens-Clarke County ballots. Votes for Darwin were tallied in both statewide Public Service Commission races, and for all of the state legislative offices on the ballot, including uncontested seats.

“I can’t ever remember seeing a (write-in ballot) report that long,” said Athens-Clarke County Elections Supervisor Gail Schrader after releasing the full list of write-in numbers to local media Thursday morning.

Broun received 16,980 votes in Athens-Clarke County, and garnered 209,917 votes across the district.

The congressman’s press secretary did not return calls to her office and to her cellphone Thursday afternoon, nor had she responded to an email request for comment.

Source: Athens Banner-Herald Online (local paper cited in major national news articles on this)

OP: Saw Rachel Maddow gleefully report on this and thought I'd share. ;)

Nye 2014?
mirhanda 10th-Nov-2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
Instead of writing in a useless vote, why not vote for his opponent and get him out of there? I mean it's cute and all, but not as useful and unseating him. If he was running unopposed, use the drive that they put out to get people to vote for Darwin to write in an actual living person.
mirhanda 10th-Nov-2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
People outside of his district can vote in that election? Huh. Here in my state, you can only vote for the representative running for your district.
mysid 10th-Nov-2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
When I was in college, I was registered to vote in my hometown, not my college town, and voted via absentee ballot. I'm guessing many UGA students do the same. HOWEVER, you think UGA faculty could help sway things to the thinking person's side.
veracity 11th-Nov-2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Well, there's the fact many may not live in the district either. I go to another local college, about 40 minutes to the south, and many of our fac and staff live on the East side of Atlanta. Judging by their comments in classes and such anyway. So not a District 7 area.
romp 11th-Nov-2012 08:14 am (UTC)
I lived in Athens for a bit and it was fairly liberal. But I suppose it's Athens vs. the rest of the district.

Has your friends been at the Banner-Herald long?
layweed 10th-Nov-2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
I think he may have run unopposed, judging from the Politico election results for the 10th District for Georgia.
veracity 10th-Nov-2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
A lot of us had unopposed. I think I'm in the 4th district now, since the gerrymandering. I know I used to be 7th.
terseywersey 10th-Nov-2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
He didn't have a real opponent. I voted for Darwin because it was the best way to make a statement. The problem with the 10th District is that it encompasses one of the most liberal counties in the state (Athens-Clarke), but unfortunately, that is also the smallest county in the state... so the majority of the district is very conservative. Even very good candidates in the past (including a Democrat who was an Iraq war veteran from one of the conservative rural counties) have failed to garner much support outside of Athens, including opposition within the Republican party. I personally voted in the Republican primary just to vote against Broun this time around because that was the only opposition he faced, and there were many Democrats who did the same, but to no avail.

Edited at 2012-11-10 07:19 pm (UTC)
veracity 10th-Nov-2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
And then you have counties like Gwinnett, where you have three different districts. You get 10th, 4th, and 7th. 7th is Woodall's place, which yay for not having him anymore, but also boo because Gwinnett is a pretty populated county and all this moving around is ridiculous. I'm in the 4th and my mom is in the 7th. We're a whopping 10-15 minutes apart in the driving direction, same county. I vote at my dad's old address but I'll be back at 7th district when I put in my new address. The Republicans have created a nice little lock in the area.

I didn't even know if there WAS a democratic opponent, to be honest.
layweed 10th-Nov-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
Sounds like Central Texas. Austin and Travis County is a liberal stronghold but because of the way they carved up the map around here, we have one Democratic Congressman for the entire region and he doesn't even serve all of Austin.
liret 10th-Nov-2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
He ran unopposed. The fact there were this many people willing to write in dead scientists makes me wonder why, but I suppose until these remarks came out he was considered untouchable. (Even after I'm sure he would have won, given the district, but they could have made him fight a bit and possibly look vulnerable for next time.)
corinn 10th-Nov-2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
He ran unopposed, and another article mentions write-ins are invalid unless the write-in candidate has previously filed paperwork ("notice of intent," I think). There was one person who did so. The guy got 200-300 votes (I've seen both figures in different articles). Part of the problem there might be that his name was Brown and the incumbent was Broun, but articles seem to attach the descriptor "little-known" to Brown, so maybe he just didn't have a prolific campaign. I can't even find a web site for him to find out what positions he holds. Maybe he's also batshit. Who knows?

Yeah, promoting a legit candidate would have been better. It seems the only legitimate write-in candidate didn't take advantage of people being pissed at the incumbent to launch a Facebook campaign or something. Broun's comments were publicized in early October-- what was the deadline for filing write-in eligibility paperwork? IDK. And that may have been too close to the election for someone to go "Hmmm, I think I will run for Congress."

Like the one organizer says: At least it shows there's a possible vulnerability in that district. Hopefully democrats will pounce in 2014.
kitanabychoice 10th-Nov-2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
I agree with this, but on my ballot there were lots of sections where only one person was running -- so it was either vote for them or withhold the vote. I withheld my vote, but my bf thought it better to write in his dog's name. I guess it just depends on where you are.
layweed 10th-Nov-2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
Huh. I didn't think to do this. Most of the people who ran unopposed were Democrat judges so I just went ahead and filled those in, but there were several Republican/Libertarian races where I could've done that. I guess that's what happens when you vote on a machine with annoying scroll wheels and buttons.
kitanabychoice 11th-Nov-2012 12:28 am (UTC)
Ah, see, I had an early paper ballot, so I simply left those options blank. I did end up voting for a Libertarian over a Republican, in one of the sections. When I looked over his stance, he mostly talked about implementing a law where victimless crimes (like marijuana possession) are prosecuted less heavily.
piratesswoop 11th-Nov-2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
I did that on my ballot. John Boehner was running unopposed but there was a write-in spot so I voted for Serena Williams.
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