COPY-Gubernatorial candidate misidentified as "Rich Whitey" on ballots

CHICAGO, IL (NBC) - A spelling snafu on Illinois electronic voting machines threatens to turn away potential voters for the Green Party's gubernatorial candidate.

The Chicago Board of Elections apologized Thursday to the Green Party and its candidate, Rich Whitney, for spelling his name on the ballot as "Rich Whitey."

The spelling error affected every voting machine already deployed. The elections board admitted Wednesday that they mistakenly printed Whitney's name as "Whitey" on electronic-voting machines in 23 Chicago wards, including about half in black communities.

The board will now reprogram more than 2,500 machines before they are sent to polling places next week. The machines already in use will be programmed after that.

That's not good enough for the candidate with the misspelled name.

"I don't want to be identified as "Whitey," Rich Whitney told the 'Chicago Sun-Times.' "If this is happening in primarily African-American wards, that's an even bigger concern. I don't know if this is machine politics at play or why this happened."

Green Party chair Phil Huckelberry said he isn't satisfied with the board's response either but admitted there's not much else that can be done.

Whitney's name is spelled correctly on the first screen showing all the candidates names, but when voters check who they voted for, "Whitey" will appear, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections.

"This is a difficult situation," Allen said. "The important thing is the name is spelled correctly where it counts, and that's where people are making the selection."

The "Chicago Sun-Times" reported that a "candidate-neutral" list will also hang in polling places with all candidates' names spelled correctly.

Whitney, who's running against Pat Quinn, Bill Brady, and Scott Lee Cohen, is currently weighing whether he should sue to get his name spelled correctly on the electronic-voting machines.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.