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Rich Whitney Mislabeled ‘Whitey’ On Some Ballots

Rich Whitney, Green Party candidate for Illinois governor.

Rich Whitney, Green Party candidate for Illinois governor. (Source: whitneyforgov.org)

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Updated: 10/14/10 5:10 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) - One letter can make a big difference — especially when it comes to a ballot in the Illinois governor’s race. Chicago election officials say Green Party candidate Rich Whitney is listed as Rich “Whitey” on some electronic-voting machines in Chicago.

More than 500 electronic voting machines in 54 precincts across the city have Whitney’s name spelled wrong.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel Reports

On the first page, you see the names of all the candidates for governor, and Whitney’s name is spelled correctly. But when you get to the review page, to make sure you’ve made the right choice, if you voted for Whitney, the machine shows that you voted for “Rich Whitey.”

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker talked to candidate Whitney by phone.

“I’m angry and upset that a mistake of this magnitude could happen,” Whitney said. “There’s only two possibilities. One is that it was an innocent mistake but a serious one, in which case it’s gross negligence, or it was intentional, an effort to sabotage my vote total.”

Board election chairman Langdon Neal says the Board is embarrassed by the mistake and is taking steps to correct the spelling of Whitney’s name.

“No one at the Chicago Board of Elections or a vendor would ever do anything to, in any way, negatively affect the integrity of the election or the integrity of this office, or in any way influence any one candidate’s success,” said Neal.

Starting Friday, 4,200 election machines, that were supposed to be delivered to precincts on Monday to get ready for November’s election, will be reprogrammed. The 500 machines that are being used for early voting will be fixed by Wednesday.

That means if you’re headed to the polls in the next few days and vote for Whitney, you will still see “Rich Whitey” on the review page.

Neal says the error was discovered Wednesday, after about 5,000 ballots had been cast by early voters. He added the mistake was found in all the city’s wards. There are no errors on paper ballots.

As for whose fault this is, the election judges blame it on the vendor. Neal insisted it was a typographical error, adding there is no indication the error was made intentionally.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker, Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.