After winning election to the Montauk Library’s board on April 27, Perry Haberman learned that he was ineligible for the position. The board took action at a meeting on Monday to declare the election null and void, leaving Mr. Haberman, who was elected with 62 votes, off the board.
Mr. Haberman had switched his voter registration to reflect a New York City residence in order to vote in the presidential election, which meant he was no longer considered a Suffolk County resident for a full year prior to the library election, as mandated under New York State election law.
In an e-mail message he said he had switched his registration because he knew he could not make it out to his Montauk home for the presidential election in November.
“We were all shocked; it took us by surprise,” Joan Lycke, the board president, said. “Perry has been a dedicated library trustee. It’s an embarrassment and we feel bad about it.”
Residency is determined solely by voter registration. An owner of a house in Montauk and the Montauk Book Shop, Mr. Haberman was still registered in New York City, where he also resides. “As a taxpayer and property owner in Montauk since 1994, as well as having a business in the hamlet, it never occurred to me that voter registration would be an issue,” he said.
Mr. Haberman said he reviewed the 62 votes he had received for another five-year term and discovered that his name had been removed from the voter registration rolls. The library got in touch with its attorney, Bill Cullen, who is also the attorney for the Montauk School District, and he determined that Mr. Haberman was ineligible to accept re-election or continue his current term, which ends on June 30.
Library officials have reviewed the minutes of all the meetings during Mr. Haberman’s term and have determined that all actions and votes taken during that time remain valid. The budget that was approved with 82 votes on April 27 is not affected.
Mr. Haberman, who has been a board member for 10 years, five as president, said that before the election it was not his intention to run again, but other board members coaxed him into it, saying that they could use his assistance.
“As you can see, the irony here was my willingness to help out my friends and colleagues on the board and then have this happen,” he said. “Neither I nor anyone else knew this would be an issue. Being required to submit my resignation in this manner after so many years of dedication is very frustrating, and to say that I am upset is an understatement.”
In a release, board members said they regretfully accepted his resignation from the position. As a result, there is now a vacant seat on the board. A write-in candidate who received one vote was asked to step in, but declined. The vacancy can be filled by appointment until next year’s election. Anyone interested can reach the board through the library.