Monday, October 18, 2010

What's to blame? Illinois political corruption or Illinois' bad spelling?

My partner and I didn't know if we should laugh or cry when we heard that Rich Whitney's name was spelled incorrectly on the Chicago ballot sheets for the upcoming gubernatorial election. Rich Whitney is the Green Party candidate for Illinois governor. He's already been excluded from the debates by the League of Women Voters, facing the same discrimination encountered by third party candidates everywhere in the U.S. (In California, as one example, the Green Party gubernatorial candidate was also denied access to the debates, due to the rule that candidates must achieve a 10% threshold in polls. Never mind that the surveys in California have respondents choose between three options - between the Republicans, Democrats, and Other.) But misspelling Mr. Whitney's name as Whitey, leaving off the 'n,', takes the cake. In a city that is 35% African-American and working-class, there is the choice on the ballot of a "Rich Whitey".

 Immediately after the error was made public, many people were speculating that it was no mistake at all. Chicago is still run by corrupt machine politics of the Democratic Party and dirty tricks are probably more the rule than the exception. However, my wife and I aren't sure if corruption is the right explanation or just the consistently bad spelling on the part of Illinois bureaucrats. While I lean toward the former (Come on! Rich Whitey?!), the two of us have experienced the spelling problems of the state firsthand. After two years of living here, our names have been consistently misspelled on official documents, by both private and public institutions. It seems Illinois bureaucrats have a spelling problem. My first health insurance card from here came back as Cory Mattsoon (two errors, not just one), after which it has been mistake after mistake.

So which is it, typical Illinois corruption or the problems Illinois bureaucrats have with standard spelling?

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