The Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Office has been thrust into the national spotlight in recent months, as Supervisor Harry Sawyer was embroiled in a high-profile battle with Gov. Rick Scott.
Sawyer refused to implement a state law that reduced the number of early voting days, despite instense pressure from Scott.
The new Florida election law reduced early voting days from 14 to eight.
However, the law kept the total number of hours available for early voting, by making those eight workdays 12 hours long.
Sawyer eventually conceded after the federal government approved the changes and agreed to reduce the number of days. But not before becoming a national hero among many voting rights advocates and national radio and television talk show hosts.
Sawyer, who held office for 24 years, is retiring, and the public is looking for someone to continue his work.
Assistant Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin and former Key West City Commissioner Barry Gibson are vying for the spot.
Gibson supports Sawyer's views on early voting, but will stand by the call to implement the new rule.
"I respect Harry's position because he has a lot of expertise and long history dealing with elections," Gibson said. "It will be harder on staff, because they are going to be longer workdays. Scheduling could be difficult. There will need to be adjustments."
The new law could make it easier on the working person, though, as it gives them more time to vote before and after work, Gibson said.
Griffin said she also would abide by the law, though she supported Sawyer's position. She questioned how many people would actually vote before or after work, and would rather see more days, not longer hours on fewer days.
She argued that many people spend their weekday mornings getting ready for work and/or getting their children ready for school, which leaves little time to vote before work. She also argued that after work, many are rushing home to get their children ready for youth sports and going to the "ball fields."
Griffin, a Democrat, is running on her experience, while Gibson, a Republican, is pushing his management skills and pledges to expand voter registration programs and to do more with social media to educate and register people to vote.
"I see this as a leadership role, and that's what suits me well," Gibson said of the supervisor of elections position. "I have banking, business and government under my belt. The office has a good staff without a lot of tenured employees."
The former Key West city commissioner owned two sunglasses stores called Shades of Key West and is the former president of First Union Bank of Monroe County. Gibson has served on the boards of the Navy League, the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League, the Key West Chamber of Commerce and the Conch Republic Offshore Power Boat Racing Association.
While Gibson said he respects Sawyer's knowledge and leadership, he thinks the office needs to do more outreach and voter registration.
"I think they could do more with Facebook and other social media," Gibson said. "Their Facebook page is blank."
He said he would like to see office workers at seafood festivals and other civic and special events to register people to vote, answer questions and do other outreach, he said. Under his leadership, the office would hold random voter drives.
Griffin also sees voter education and outreach as important.
She and her colleagues regularly visit the schools and the community college to educate students about elections and election law. Griffin and her colleagues at the Supervisor of Elections Office have overseen school elections, including Key West High School homecoming elections, and Key West Chamber of Commerce and Key West Business Guild elections.
She said the office is constantly updating the Supervisor of Elections Web page. The site also has archived information and databases from previous elections.
"I am passionate about voter education," Griffin said.
She touted the current voter registration numbers and credited them to the office's work. Roughly 80 percent of Monroe County adults are registered to vote, she said.
Griffin has worked for the Supervisor of Elections Office for 28 years, 19 of them as assistant supervisor. She has worked for five supervisors. Also, she is a member of the Florida Voter Registration System Board and the Bilingual Poll Worker State Board.
There will be no learning curve if she is elected, as she runs the office in Sawyer's absence, Griffin said.
"I have the knowledge and the skills to keep the election office on the path that it is now on of accurate and fair elections," Griffin said. "Mr. Sawyer and I worked well together ... I know not just the state laws, but case laws. I have good grasp of the situation. There is nothing that I have not done. When Mr. Sawyer is not here, I step up to the plate."
The two will square off for the $90,000-a-year job in the Nov. 6 General Election.