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Bellport voters 'fired up' over registration

More than 250 Bellport residents signed a petition seeking the return of Village Registration Day, a service that gave part-time residents a chance to register for village elections.

A resolution to reinstate the registration days, which was suspended in 2006, was shot down 3-2 by the village board in December.

The trustees did not want to spend the money to keep village hall open additional days, pay staff to register voters or foot other costs, like challenging a voter’s residency, said Village Mayor David Pate.

“They believe it’s not necessary,” said Pate, who voted in favor of the resolution. “We have a system that we go by already.”

The service, which was available to all residents, was especially important to part-time residents because it allowed them to register to vote in Bellport Village elections and remain registered at their permanent addresses for general or primary elections.

Sherry Biddington, who has lived in Bellport for 53 years, was one of the residents who started the petition, which was handed to Pate during a January board meeting. She and others continue to collect signatures because they believe it is a matter of “taxation without representation.”

“Thirty percent of our taxes are paid by summer and weekend residents,” she said, estimating that 150 of those residents are not registered to vote in village elections. “We’re still working on this. The more they make this an issue when it’s a very simple solution, the more residents get fired up about this.”

Village trustees who voted against the measure could not be reached for comment.

Pate said there are 1,100 homes in the village, and about 20 percent of those are seasonal. He didn’t know exactly how many of those seasonal homeowners were not registered to vote in Bellport.

Francis Trotta, who has lived in Bellport full time for about seven years and part-time for most of his life, said the community values its part-time residents, many of whom donate money to local organizations, sit on boards and shop in the business district.

“Many of the people who are speaking out are year-rounders who can vote,” Trotta said, “and just feel that this is a tremendous injustice.”

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