CHICAGO — An Illinois gubernatorial candidate’s name was mistakenly listed as “Rich Whitey” instead of Rich Whitney on thousands of Chicago electronic-voting machines and will be corrected, elections officials said Thursday.
Chicago elections board Chairman Langdon Neal said crews will work overtime to reprogram and retest 530 machines being used for early voting and an additional 4,200 destined for the Nov. 2 election. The mistake in the Green Party candidate’s name appears on a review screen that allows voters to double-check their selections and not on the screen where the vote is registered. It also is not on paper ballots, Neal said.
He said the board became aware of the typo Wednesday and called Whitney’s lawyer Thursday morning. But Green Party Chairman Phil Huckelberry said a party member found the mistake Tuesday and was brushed off by city election officials for a day.
“We don’t have any idea what affect that has had on voters,” Huckelberry said. “I think something needs to be done above and beyond what they’re doing.”
Not only has the mistake made Chicago a laughingstock, he said, but “our candidate … has been tagged with a name that really isn’t that nice.”
Early voting began Monday, and about 5,000 ballots have been cast, though that number includes military and overseas paper ballots that weren’t affected, election officials said. The mistake will continue to appear on early voting machines until the weekend, and a notice alerting voters about the problem will appear in the city’s 54 early voting locations until then.
Neal apologized for the mistake, which he blamed on a private vendor hired by the board. He dismissed allegations that the typo could’ve been intentional.
“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, the integrity of this office,” Neal said. “That’s our reputation and that’s our history.”
He estimated the mistake will cost in the “low tens of thousands” of dollars to fix.
Asked if election officials would spend the time – and money – to correct the mistake if it didn’t involve loaded racial language, Neal replied, “It certainly makes it more embarrassing.”
Whitney faces Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Republican state Sen. Bill Brady and Libertarian Lex Green in the election.