Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux proposed a shake-up in the way elections take place in Niceville.
According to Lux – he had heard the City of Niceville was interested in allowing the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections office, led by Lux, to take over operational responsibility for city elections. This would require a change, or amendment to the Niceville City Charter. The change itself would require a vote by the citizens in a general election or special election – in compliance with Florida State Statute 166.031
Currently, the City of Niceville staff administers city elections.
In 1992, six of the eight cities, or municipalities, in Okaloosa County took advantage of a decision by the state legislature that allowed them to give the responsibility of overseeing their elections to the Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections.
This week, the other city that chose not to hand over that responsibility, Valparaiso, changed its mind and officially asked Lux’s office to administer their elections fully.
The big change for citizens: Niceville would hold its city council and other municipal elections in March. Currently, the city holds those elections in July.
Right now, The Supervisor of Elections Office’s only responsibility to Niceville is to maintain and hand over a list of eligible voters in the city for the election. The city mans the polling stations, creates and counts the ballots – and makes sure that candidates comply with election finance laws.
Mr. Lux told the city council that there would be a cost – but it would be variable based on the services the Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections renders. “You are never billed for more than what it actually costs me to run an election,” Lux told the council. “I never charge you for staff’s time, because they’re at work for the taxpayers in Okaloosa County anyway. So, although you may share the cost of overtime on Election Day for my staff, you would never be billed for me and my staff’s regular time for anything. And you’ll never pay more than what the election actually costs me to run for you, as the statute requires.”
Additionally, Lux said there were a series of cost-cutting measures to reduce the total amount of the bill, including keeping a single voting place. Currently, only one site – Niceville City Hall – has been used for city elections. Lux’s proposal included the three voting precincts that are used for larger elections. “However, as [the city council] knows well, on Election Day, your voters are used to just coming in and voting here. And we can make that happen as well by building it into your ordinance,” Lux said.
Right now, nothing.
The City Council would have to enter into a formal agreement with the Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections Office to run the elections. But the presentation Lux gave at Tuesday’s meeting means that the city council now has information on how to make the switch.
Long story short? Niceville Election Day may trade summer heat for springtime in 2023.