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Originally published Monday, October 20, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Sorry, Ralph! "Nader" misspelled on ballots

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey still hears from nostalgists who miss casting votes in a booth in a school gymnasium. Speaking to a men's...

The Columbian

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey still hears from nostalgists who miss casting votes in a booth in a school gymnasium. Speaking to a men's church group Saturday morning, he reiterated that he switched the county to all-mail elections a few years ago because having a single method cuts down on errors.

Still, he said, when humans are involved in a complicated process, mistakes happen.

"I told them there's no such thing as a perfect election," he said.

A few hours later, Kimsey heard from a reporter who had only one question about the ballots that had just been mailed out: How did the last name of presidential candidate Ralph Nader come to be spelled incorrectly?

After consulting with elections supervisor Tim Likness, Kimsey had a simple answer: human error.

"It's a very dark day at the elections office," said Kimsey, who was at work Saturday because the elections office was open so people could register. "This is the most significant ballot-proofreading error that has occurred in the Clark County elections office in anyone's memory."

Kimsey said the county has 187 ballot formats, one for each precinct, and apparently Nader's name was spelled "Nadar" on all of them.

The employee who typed the names made the error, but it wasn't caught by a proofreader or by Likness, who signs off on the ballots before they are printed.

Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez, running as independents, are listed third on the ballot, after Democrats Barack Obama and Joseph Biden — listed first because their party won the state in 2004 — and Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin, but before five other duos.

Nader's name is correctly spelled in the voters guide.

"We do strive for accurate information in all of our elections material, and we are very sorry for this mistake," Kimsey said. He stressed that any vote cast for "N-a-d-a-r" will be counted for Mr. "N-a-d-e-r."

If the 2004 election is any indication, that won't be many. Nader took less than 1 percent of the vote in Clark County.

And, really, the spelling error could have been much worse. It was one vowel away from being what could have been construed as a political statement: "N-a-d-i-r" means "the lowest point."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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