A state judge and attorneys for candidates in two unresolved elections began reviewing 101 disputed ballots yesterday that could decide the outcome of both races.
GOP attorneys in Central Islip, where ballots are being debated in a Brookhaven Town Council race and a Suffolk District Court contest, suggested one ballot signature had been forged and asked State Supreme Court Justice Carol MacKenzie to forward it to Suffolk prosecutors for investigation. She did not say whether she would do so.
Democratic attorney Jim Matthews said Republicans were "jumping the gun a little bit."
MacKenzie's decisions could determine whether incumbent Democratic Councilwoman Connie Kepert retains her seat on the Brookhaven Town Board. In unofficial tallies, Kepert was behind Republican challenger Michael A. Loguercio Jr. by 11 votes. Republican and Democratic attorneys challenged a total of 48 ballots in that race.
In the other race, for 6th District Court judge, Democrat Chris A. Kelley led Conservative Party candidate Barbara Lynaugh by about 25 votes. There are 53 contested ballots in that race.
Attorneys formally entered five contested ballots into evidence and agreed to drop challenges to 20 more.
Republican attorney Steven Losquadro, brother of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro, called a handwriting expert and a Suffolk elections inspector.
Jared A. Kasschau, an attorney for Kepert, said two ballots should be thrown out because the voters' signatures when they voted did not match those in election registration records.
The handwriting specialist testified that a different ballot contained a signature "dramatically different" from one in registration records. But attorneys didn't claim the signature was forged.
Election commissioners are expected to meet Wednesday to count about 20 ballots that attorneys no longer are contesting.
The hearing resumes Friday.