STAFFING SHORTAGES FORCE CLOSURE FOR MARATHON SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS OFFICE

The Monroe County Supervisor of Elections’ Marathon branch is now closed until early voting due to staffing shortages. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

In 2022, staffing shortages are so common that they seem to have become the norm rather than the exception. Simply turn your head and you’ll find a business restricting its hours or services out of simple necessity, unable to fill out its desired payroll.

When those same shortages close an elections office four months before a general election, it’s kind of a big deal.

Such is the case for Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin, who has lost her three employees at the Marathon branch to moves and retirements and has yet to receive any applicants for the open positions.

“I just don’t know what to say,” Griffin told Keys Weekly. “It breaks my heart to close that office, especially at this time of year, but I have done everything I possibly can and I cannot find anybody to work.”

The salaried position starts at $43,000 per year and includes paid vacation and sick leave as well as insurance and retirement benefits. Griffin plans to reach out to past poll workers to see if any are interested in working for the office through November’s general election, but recognizes this is only a short-term solution.

“I’m not the only one suffering from this, but you would think someone in Marathon would love to have a county job,” she said.

As of now, the Marathon office will remain closed until it becomes an early voting site from Aug. 8-20. Middle Keys voters who wish to register to vote, change their party affiliation, change their addresses or request vote by mail ballots can do so on the Supervisor of Elections’ website at www.keys-elections.org. Though previously handled by Griffin’s office as a courtesy, qualifying candidates for the upcoming Marathon City Council election will now fall on the City of Marathon.

Though the office previously functioned as a drop-off site for absentee and vote-by-mail ballots, Griffin said a legal requirement to account for ballots from a “secure ballot intake station” on the Supervisor of Elections’ computer system on a daily basis precludes her from extending the drop-off service while the office is closed. Mail-in ballots may be sent to the Supervisor of Elections’ Key West office at 530 Whitehead Street #101, Key West, FL 33040.

Interested parties are urged to contact the Supervisor of Elections at 305-292-3416. Among other basic requirements in customer service, computer knowledge and communication skills, applicants must be able to pass a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.