From the Cracker Squire Archives - Speaking of Marvin Griffin and Carl Sanders . . .
From a 12-11-04 post:
I know many of you who live in Georgia -- rather than the Other Georgia -- have not heard of some of the places that I might write about from time to time.
"Echols County: You never heard of the county-unit system? Well then not only are you young, but you also did not read my 08-29-04 [I started this blog in Aug. 2004] wherein I wrote:
"[In 1962] "cuff link Carl" Sanders beat "they ate my bar-b-que Marvin Griffin" . . . [in a] Georgia gubernatorial race . . .that represented good's triumph over evil for me when I was 13 . . .
"1962 was an important year in Georgia history. That year in Westberry v. Sanders a federal court invalidated our state's county-unit system, and thus was born the one man one vote concept. And Gov. Sanders became Georgia's first governor elected by popular vote rather than under the county-unit system. The county-unit system was somewhat akin to the electoral college on the federal scene, but with significant differences.
"[W]hile I generally agree with doing away with the county-unit system -- there is some logic to having our state Senate comprised differently than the state House just as it is with the U.S. Senate, not necessarily by county, but on some other basis than just one man one vote -- currently I am not in favor of doing away with the electoral college. It might need some revising, I really don't know; all I know about it is what I learned in college while minoring in political science and watching it every four years. Thus I am not an expert in the subject to say the least. But I do know that I don't want New York, California, Florida and Pennsylvania being the only states that determine who our president will be."
Back to Echols County. Although you may not have heard of Echols County, I can assure you that in every candidate for Governor and the U.S. Senate running for statewide office prior to 1962 had heard of it, and spent part of the candidate's campaign time there soliciting valuable votes.
And someone else who has heard of it is former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. He wrote the Court's 1962 opinion in Westbury v. Sanders noted pointed that invalidated the county-unit system.
In writing the opinion for the Court Justice Douglas stated the following about Georgia's county-unit system:
"[The person who brought the lawsuit challenging the county-unit system] asserted that the total population of Georgia in 1960 was 3,943; that the population of Fulton County, where he resides, was 556,326; that the residents of Fulton County comprised 14.11% of Georgia's total population; but that, under the county unit system, the six unit votes of Fulton County constituted 1.46% of the total of 410 unit votes, or one-tenth of Fulton County's percentage of statewide population. The complaint further alleged that Echols County, the least populous county in Georgia, had a population in 1960 of 1,876, or .05% of the State's population, but the unit vote of Echols County was .48% of the total unit vote of all counties in Georgia, or 10 times Echols County's statewide percentage of population. One unit vote in Echols County represented 938 residents, whereas one unit vote in Fulton County represented 92,721 residents. Thus, one resident in Echols County had an influence in the nomination of candidates equivalent to 99 residents of Fulton County."
Man, talk about the good old days . . . And you think Atlanta and Fulton County have grown since 1960. Echol County's population has more than doubled from 1960 to 2000, barely. The 1,876 in 1960 in 2000 was 3,754. And yes, Echols still the state's least populous county. Back when state prisoners made tags each year rather than beating up on each other all of the time and engaging in Gov. Perdue's faith-based initiatives, a county ranking population wise would appear on the county. Echols sported a 159; Coffee [my county] a 36.