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Okaloosa County elections chief, employee test positive for coronavirus

Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — The Crestview branch of the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Office has been shuttered until further notice after Supervisor Paul Lux and a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19.

Paul Lux

Lux will work remotely and self-isolate for the recommended time period while preparations for the Nov. 3 General Election continue. Lux said he feels well other than being a little run down, which he said could be attributed to the extra hours he and his staff have put in preparing for the election.

"The upside is if my condition continues to improve I should be back to work for the closeout of early voting and the election," he said. 

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The decision to close the office was made "out of an abundance of caution and concern for public safety," a news release said. Lux said that the county had sent in emergency management personnel to sanitize the Crestview office and it is hoped the office can be reopened "sometime this week."

A voter sits on a chair as she waits in line outside of the Okaloosa County Government Annex in Shalimar. Early voting started Monday, and lines were moving steadily.

Early voting got underway Monday, and Lux said there were lines in front of at least three of the county's balloting locations. Shortly after 11 a.m., he reported 635 votes had been cast in Shalimar, 530 at the Community Center in Crestview and 549 at the Community Center in Niceville.

Officials at the Destin Community Center reported a steady trickle of voters about noon.  

Early voting will continue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day through Oct. 31 at these locations: 

  • Okaloosa County Administration Building, 1250 Eglin Parkway, Shalimar
  • Crestview Community Center, 1446 Commerce Drive
  • Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.
  • Niceville Community Center, 204 Partin Drive.

Lux said the elections office in Crestview typically sees a steady flow of residents on early voting days, but with a second Crestview location available he did not believe closing the office would have a significant impact on voting.

"Right now, public safety outweighs the need to keep this place open," he said. "We don't want to invite the public in if it's not safe."

A line of voters wait outside the entrance of the Okaloosa County Administration Building in Shalimar. Early voting started Monday and continues through Oct. 31.

As in the March 17 presidential preference primary and Aug. 18 primary election, all polling places will continue to adhere to CDC guidelines to provide a safe environment for voters and poll workers, the news release issued Monday said.

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A variety of personal protective equipment and sanitizing measures are available at all polling places, and poll workers have been trained on proper disinfecting procedures. Voters and poll workers are strongly encouraged to wear masks and respect others while in the polling places, the news release said.

Voters concerned about coronavirus can request a vote-by-mail ballot until 5 p.m. Oct. 24. Should they wish to hand-deliver the ballot, secured dropboxes are located outside the elections offices in Crestview and Shalimar or at any early voting site during hours in which early voting is being conducted. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Elections officials will update the public on their website, www.voteokaloosa.gov, and Facebook page, @okaloosacountysupervisorofelections.