Staten Island residents fed up with New York City government voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to take a small step on a long road that could lead toward secession from the Big Apple.

Nearly 81 percent of those voted cast their ballots for the referendum to create a 13-member commission to study the secession issue and draft a possible charter for a City of Staten Island.Elections officials said turnout was "average," but added that it was the highest of the five boroughs, where voter activity was described as "low."

The referendum was conducted only on Staten Island, over the opposition of the city administration, which lost a court battle to put it to a vote of all city residents.

Secession advocates charge that the overwhelmingly white, middle-class borough always ends up on the short end of the stick in the battle for city services.