Honest Non-Profit Monitors Elections – QNS.com

Honest Non-Profit Monitors Elections

Linda Chiarelli Gibbs stood atop a table, screaming. "No cussing, no drinking," she yelled to a rowdy group of elevator workers standing near her ballot boxes. "Uh, uh. Im closing this election down."
The slim blonde clad in a light green sleeveless dress and matching pumps did not appear the part of bouncer as she sat cross-legged on a recent Thursday at her North Shore Towers home. But she still smiled and laughed as she recalled the elevator workers election she ran three years ago as part of the non-profit group she heads, Teddy Roosevelts "Honest Ballot Association."
"They said, OK, lady. No problem. And they moved back," Gibbs remembered of the elevator workers reaction to her tabletop warning. "They listen because, you know what, they want to vote. And its a privilege to vote."
The election was one of hundreds she runs each year and the voters are as diverse as the 10,000 United Parcel Service workers in California and the 2,185 Sikhs who chose leaders for the Sikh Cultural Society of New York. So far, Gibbs has not had an overturned election. For that matter, no election overseen by the association since Roosevelt created it in 1909 to eliminate fraud that permeated New York City elections has ever been negated.
"We have hot-and-heavy, contested elections," Gibbs said. "Were accurate, and we know what to do and how to do it."
Her expertise may be common knowledge. Despite her lack of advertising, Gibbs services through the non-profit have been sought out by unions, colleges, cooperative apartment complexes and lotteries. She regularly advises lawyers confused by controversial elections. Even companies considering merging have her review customer lists, looking for potential conflicts.
"We do everything and anything we can to straighten things out," Gibbs said.
Depending on the level of difficulty, elections can cost as little as $3 a ballot and as much as $6.
Perhaps the greatest recent challenge for Gibbs, who took the reigns in October 2001 after former president Murray Schwartz died, was presiding over the Sikh elections for the past two years. When the Sikhs asked Gibbs to step in, the societys list of eligible voters was a mess. Society President Bhupinder Singh Boparai of Fresh Meadows likened the former practices to pulling someone off of the street and allowing him to elect a Sikh leader. Gibbs came in and confirmed the electors, then checked identification for each Sikh entering the polling location. After each Sikh voted, she marked his right hand, which must bear a Kara or bracelet that reminds Sikhs to do no wrong with that hand.
Heather Fletcher is a freelance writer.

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