Due to concerns of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally issued a delay in local government elections such as Patchogue’s March 18 elections till late April. Now, due to the ongoing epidemic, the elections have been further postponed to Sept. 15, also affecting Bellport Village’s June election.
“Of course, I would have rather had it on the 18 or 28th and get it out of the way but in the world we live in now you take what’s given to you,” said Mayor Paul Pontieri who celebrated his April 1st anniversary as the longest running mayor in the village. “Also, it is going to be a little more complicated now,” he added explaining that the village will now be required to send out absentee ballots to every resident.
A total of 6,700 residents are registered to vote within the village and will be given the choice to submit an absentee ballot or visit a sole polling site, should it be permitted, creating a much longer process.
“You can’t stop people totally from voting in person,” Pontieri said.
Ballots will go out about three weeks before Sept. 15 allowing enough time for voters to submit. Also, he noted, the ballots would have to be posted and placed in three specific envelops making for easy submission and private and protected voting. Those envelopes, he added, could become difficult to purchase if multiple municipalities require them for voting.
“This will be very interesting,” he said of the new way to vote.
Luckily, though Patchogue had already opened and closed their petition period with one contender on the ballot. There are four candidates running for three trustee seats and one candidate running for the mayor’s seat (unopposed).
Bellport, which was originally scheduled to hold their elections on June 16, on the other hand had not started their petition process and has not been issued guidance from the state on how to do so as of yet. Two trustees, Joe Gagliano and Steve Mackin are up for vote and will be running again.
“We are assuming as we get closer to July they will come out with a way to petition and another method of doing it,” said mayor Ray Fell of the uncertainty. Or, he said, maybe they will allow anyone on the ballot who officially writes in that they want to run. “It all depends on how we reopen the country in the coming months.”
In addition to the trustees the village justice is also running to maintain their position.
“I think it’s a good idea to move elections, at this point in time everyone is very nervous about going to an area with people,” he added. “We will see where we are as we approach September, maybe we can do regular voting at the Community Center as we always do.”
Gov. Cuomo moves local elections to Sept. 15 affecting both Patchogue and Bellport Village’s original March and June elections.