Robert Cornegy holds 94-vote edge over Kirsten Foy amid reports of voting machine irregularities
By Stephen Witt
On the morning after the election, Bed-Stuy residents remained in flux as to who will represent them in the City Council after Robert Cornegy declared victory after squeaking out a slim 94-vote victory over his nearest opponent Kirsten John Foy in the 36th District race.
And following a count of absentee and affidavit ballots later this week, the outcome of the election could possibly be settled by lawyers and a judge in the courts instead of by voters.
According to the unofficial tally, Cornegy received 4,138 votes to Foy’s 4,044 votes. Also receiving votes in the four-person race were Robert Waterman with 2,988 votes, Conrad Tillard with 1,858 votes and Reginald Swiney with 797 votes.
“The last time I checked you only need to win by one vote and we had more votes,” said Cornegy, who is the area’s district leader and has the backing of the term-limited current City Councilman Al Vann.
But Foy, who benefitted from the Real Estate Board of New York, who spent $274,852 in mailings for his campaign, including several negative mailings, said he is not conceding the election.
“It’s a very close race and it’s not over,” said Foy. “There are hundreds of absentee ballots and affidavit ballots, and reports of broken voting machines all over the place. My wife and I had to fill out affidavit ballots. It’s irresponsible for anyone to claim victory. We won’t know who won until next week.”
Cornegy responded that he was aware of problems with the voting machines, but most of the problems were at polling places that favored him.
“After the paper ballots are counted, I am relatively confident the vote will be the same,” said Cornegy, adding the matter should not be decided in the courts.
“This election should not be decided by any other entity but the people of the 36th City Council District, and anything at this point forward is a legal battle,” he said.
Both Waterman and Tillard conceded defeat and pledged to work with whoever ultimately wins for the better of the community.
Meanwhile, there were several reports of not only voting machine breakdowns, but of longtime polling places being closed. Among these was at PS 21, 180 Chauncey Street.
One district resident said her husband, who is a police officer, had voted at this polling place for years and when he arrived he found that it was no longer a polling place.
There were no signs or anything of where to go and he wound up not voting because he had to get to work, the resident said, adding it was the first time that her husband didn’t vote.
Several calls to the city’s Board of Elections were not returned at press time.