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Ralph Nader's name on disputed ballot

Ralph Nader stands next to his poster of

Ralph Nader stands next to his poster of Lou Gehrig in his office in Washington. (Dec. 13, 2011) Credit: AP

The name of consumer advocate Ralph Nader made a surprise appearance Friday during a court hearing on disputed Brookhaven election ballots.

A voter invoked the five-time presidential candidate in a message written across the bottom of a ballot in Brookhaven's 4th Council District.

"Where is Ralph Nadar?" the voter wrote, apparently misspelling Nader's name. A copy of the ballot was viewed by a Newsday reporter.

The ballot and the voter's message came to light during the second day of a State Supreme Court hearing Friday in Central Islip. Democratic and Republican attorneys are disputing the validity of dozens of ballots cast in Nov. 5 elections for the town council seat and a Suffolk County District Court race.

The hearing is scheduled to resume on Monday.

Judge Carol MacKenzie, whose decisions could determine the outcome of both races, said she expects to issue rulings on Tuesday.

MacKenzie, who has generally maintained a stern demeanor during the hearing, said she found the Nader message "rather amusing."

Lawyers on both sides agreed to toss out the ballot because of the handwritten message.

In the council race, incumbent Democrat Connie Kepert is trying to defeat Republican challenger Michael A. Loguercio Jr.

Ballots that were counted Wednesday because they no longer are in dispute expanded Loguercio's lead to 16 votes. He had held an 11-vote lead.

In the 6th District Court race, Democrat Chris A. Kelley held a 22-vote lead over Conservative Party candidate Barbara Lynaugh.

Most of the ballot challenges discussed Friday concerned signatures on voting records, and whether markings such as check marks and so-called "tadpole tails" should be counted if they were outside ovals for each candidate.

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