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Brookhaven's Thoden won't concede until absentee ballots counted

The day after an Assembly election they appear to have lost, Brookhaven Democrats are holding out hope for Lauren Thoden.

Thoden, who trails Republican L. Dean Murray by 186 votes with all 87 of the Third Assembly district's election districts reporting results, will wait for next week's recanvassing and the counting of 440 absentee ballots before conceding the race, Brookhaven Democratic chairman Jon Schneider said yesterday.

"We just need to make sure all the numbers are accurate and counted and check all the absentee ballots to see for sure," Schneider said. "We just need to have everything official before we're entirely sure who won."

Thoden, 27, a political neophyte from Patchogue, would have to win more than 70 percent of the unopened absentee ballots to pull even with Murray, 45, of East Patchogue. Of the 440 absentee ballots returned, 188 were Democrats and 185 were Republicans. There are also 12 ballots from Independence Party voters, five from Conservatives, two from Working Families Party members and 48 who are not affiliated with any party.

Voters not affiliated with any political party cast 48 absentee ballots.

Absentee ballot numbers could grow, election officials said, if voters' ballots were postmarked by Tuesday and received by Feb. 16.

Brookhaven Republicans, meanwhile, predicted their margin of victory would increase once all the ballots are counted.

"We're confident that our numbers will grow," town GOP chairman Jesse Garcia said.

Garcia said he expects Murray, who was well-known in the district after his failed run for the Suffolk Legislature in November, to be certified by Suffolk elections officials next week.

"Whether it's by one vote or one million votes it's a historic win for the Brookhaven Republican committee," Garcia said. "A Republican hasn't been elected in this seat for 13 years."

Final vote totals for Nassau's Assembly race show that Republican Michael Montesano of Glen Head easily defeated Matthew Meng of East Norwich, 72 percent to 28 percent.

Nassau Democratic elections Commissioner William Biamonte said officials will begin its vote certification process as soon as they get the voting machines returned.

Most of the machines used in Tuesday's election remained at area schools because the schools were closed yesterday for the snow, Biamonte said.

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