Democrat Giovanni Mata says the Suffolk Board of Elections is "politically retaliating" against him for circulating petitions to run a primary against Democratic Assemb. Philip Ramos.

Mata, former head of County Executive Steve Levy's Hispanic advisory committee, said the board notified him in May he had to re-register to vote, which he refuses to do. He claims he is a Suffolk voter who cast ballots in recent library and school board elections.

The problem: Mata, of Brentwood, registered to vote in Nassau County last year, from a Levittown abode, when hired at Nassau's minority affairs office. Despite that, Mata said, he never moved, and left the Nassau job early this year.

Mata said on April 8 he got a certificate of registration from the Suffolk board, and had Nassau's board drop him from its rolls. He claims Suffolk raised objections only after he filed a campaign committee April 23. But Suffolk records also show the state Board of Elections, which maintains a statewide voter database, told Suffolk election officials in late May that Mata had re-registered in Nassau. The Suffolk board then removed Mata from its rolls.

Suffolk Deputy Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeanne O'Rourke declined to comment on Mata, but said the board follows state legal procedure - which voids old registrations when people sign up in new jurisdictions.

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Ironically, Mata not need be a voter to run, but must live in the Assembly district for a year before Election Day. Mata's residency may come up after petitions are filed July 15, if Ramos backers challenge it. "Either he defrauded Nassau County or defrauded Suffolk," said Ramos. "Either way he was gaming the system."

- Rick Brand