A typographical error on a New York county absentee ballot gives voters there the option of electing "Barack Osama" as president in the upcoming U.S. election, instead of Barack Obama.

The incorrect ballots, issued to hundreds of voters in Rensselaer County, were first spotted by the Times Union of Albany newspaper.

Local election officials said they regret the mistake. The one-letter typo evokes the name of Osama bin Laden, the notorious al-Qaeda leader said to be the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

"It's human error, it's very unfortunate," commissioners Edward McDonough told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's an embarrassment to our office, obviously."

"We wish we could turn back the clock, but we can't."

When the elections office discovered the mistake, officials shredded the remaining "Osama" ballots and mailed correct versions to all absentee voters, who vote by mail rather than voting in person at a polling station. 

Voters who received both versions will be allowed to send in either one and have it counted, McDonough said.

Obama spokesman Blake Zeff said the campaign is "glad officials are working to correct this error and we assume it won't happen again."