Charles Darwin may be dead, but he's still the Congressional choice for thousands of voters in Athens.
In Tuesday's election, 16,980 Athens votes went to Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, a vehement opponent of evolutionary theory.
A vigorous write-in campaign by Athenians opposed to Broun produced around 4,100 votes for variations on the name of Darwin, one of the original evolutionists, according to a write-in list released by elections officials. That's close to one Darwin vote for every four received by Broun, who was unopposed on the ballot.
"I think it definitely sends a message to Broun, and the country, that there are intelligent people in Georgia embarrassed by him who are saying that Broun is not their representative," said former Athens-Clarke County Mayor Gwen O'Looney.
Many people in Athens said they had simply had it with Broun after he said that evolution was a "lie straight from the pit of hell." What especially galls numerous University of Georgia faculty members is that Broun, who believes the earth is 9,000 years old, sits on the U.S. House Science Committee.
So what began as a protest by a plant biologist escalated into a movement that had people protesting on Broad Street, creating buttons and T-shirts and even dressing like Darwin to get the word out. On a more serious note, university faculty members are encouraging people to sign petitions calling for Broun to be removed from the science committee.
The final write-in votes for Darwin across the 10th District aren't yet available, but Athens Patch will report them when they are. Other write-in votes went to A bag of Rocks, A Human Being with a Brain or at least not a Religious Fanatic, an ape and Any Sentient Being, among others.
Somewhere, Thomas Henry Huxley is smiling.