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Franklin County Partnership Strengthens Government Transparency, Access to Records

from Commissioners

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners in partnership with the Franklin County Auditor are enhancing the public's access to information through an electronic record project dubbed Citizen Transparency, which makes millions of financial records available online in a safe, secure and easily searchable system.

The new system provides any member of the public with immediate access to current information and historical data on the County's revenues and expenditures, including payroll.

Early Vote Center Expanded for Primary and Beyond

from Board of Elections

(Columbus) You might have to stand in line to vote early at the Board of Elections, but you won't have to stand outside. Franklin County has just expanded the board's office space at 1700 Morse Road in an attempt to prevent lines of voters from stretching outside the board's headquarters and into its parking lot during peak voting periods.

Eight thousand square feet from neighboring county property has been added to the 90,000 square feet already used for board of elections business throughout the year. The new space is large enough to a shelter a line of 1,200 voters at a time. Officials believe that should be enough room to accommodate the type of turnout from recent presidential election years when thousands more voted early all day on the busiest days just before the primary and general elections.

Other changes are being made to make lines move faster. Additional poll workers will greet arriving voters to ask for their name and address to identify voters who'll need to cast a provisional ballot because they haven't updated a change of name or address. Those voters will be immediately directed to another room to cast a paper ballot instead of waiting in line with others headed for voting machines.

"We're making these changes because we have the highest turnouts in central Ohio and early voting is so popular," Board of Elections Director Bill Anthony said. He noted that voting is heaviest in presidential elections. Nearly 69,000 voted early in-person during the 2012 general election with absentee ballots accounting for over 40 percent of all votes cast.

Deputy Director David Payne reminded voters that mail remains an early voting option and "a guarantee that you won't need to stand in line regardless of turnout."

Voters must request an absentee ballot to vote by mail in the primary. Applications are available on our website or by calling the board of elections at (614) 525-3100.

Sample Ballots Available Online

from Board of Elections

(Columbus) Absentee voting for the primary begins Wednesday, Feb. 17, but Franklin County's registered voters can already see what their ballot will look like when they vote early or on Election Day.

Sample Ballots for every precinct are posted on our Web site.  Versions for Democratic, Green or Republican Party candidates will appear when an address for a registered voter entered. If no ballot appears, the visitor may need to update their registration by Feb. 16.

Franklin County will have 1, 025 different versions of ballots with candidates and issues and 94 versions for issues alone in the primary.

"Sample ballots have been a popular feature on our Web site for years," Director Bill Anthony said. "They give voters the chance to become familiar with candidates and issues to make informed choices."

"They're a time saver," added Deputy Director David Payne. "People who read them show up ready to cast a ballot and that can reduce the wait times if you are coming to our early vote center or voting at your local polling place on Election Day."

Voters must request a ballot to vote absentee in the primary. More than 2,600 have applied as of this morning. Applications are available online or by calling the board of elections at (614) 525-3100.

Prevalence of Child Abuse in Franklin County

from Children Services

In 2015, Franklin County Children Services served 32,659 children. The agency received 31,729 referrals of child abuse and screened in 13,697 cases of child abuse. The types of child abuse vary and include physical, emotional, sexual and dependency. The agency publishes a Prevalence of Abuse statistics page with a two-year comparison each year. Click here to see the latest version.

Child abuse and neglect often occur in families under stress or in the middle of a crisis. Parents and other caregivers are sometimes overwhelmed by pressure and may not be able to cope with personal, financial or marital problems. Drug and alcohol use may trigger abusive or neglectful behavior. In addition, there is a growing correlation between domestic violence and child abuse.

Franklin County Children Services is mandated by law to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the FCCS 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at (614) 229-7000.

Seven Voting Locations Changing for Primary Election

from Board of Elections

More than 18,000 voters are about to receive an important notice from the Franklin County Board of Elections-a post card telling them they will have a new Election Day voting location for the March primary.

Seven locations will move to new addresses because the property owner did not want to host an election this year or because the old site could not be made accessible for voters with disabilities. The changes are as follows:

  • Alkire Road Church of Christ, 2779 Alkire Road, Grove City will move to Harmon Elementary School, 1861 Gantz Road, Grove City.
  • Buckeye Preparatory, 1414 Gault Street, Columbus moves to Driving Park Branch Library, 1422 East Livingston Avenue, Columbus.
  • Hilliard Heritage Middle School, 5670 Scioto Darby Road, Hilliard will be divided among two new locations. Precincts 3-C and 3-E will shift to the Hilliard Station Sixth Grade Building, 3589 Main Street, Hilliard. Precincts 4-C and 4-D will move to Hoffman Trails Elementary, 4301 Hoffman Farms Drive, Hilliard.
  • Jewish Community Center, 1125 College Avenue, Columbus moves to All Saints Academy, 2855 East Livingston Avenue, Columbus.
  • McNeill Farms, 7460 Lady Kirk Drive, Columbus moving to Local 1466 Union Hall, 610 Lancaster Drive, Reynoldsburg.
  • New Horizons United Methodist Church, 1665 Harrisburg Pike, Columbus moves to Harmon Elementary, 1861 Gantz Road, Grove City.
  • Xenos Christian Fellowship, 1390 Community Park Drive, Columbus moves a short distance to 1340 Community Park Drive.

The changes affect a relatively small number of voters and locations. Franklin County will have 389 polling places open on Election Day. More than 795,000 voters are eligible for the primary with more than two weeks remaining to register, but election officials stress it is still important to verify your voting location if you intend to vote on Election Day rather than vote absentee. Many voters only vote in presidential election years and could end up at the wrong address if they haven't voted since 2012. Notices will be posted at each old location to guide any lost voters to their new one.

Voters are also encouraged to visit our Web site to confirm the address of their polling place.

The changes will not impact anyone voting absentee in- person. Early voting will be held at the board of elections, located at 1700 Morse Road beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17.

2016 Tree and Plant Sale

from Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District

Franklin Soil and Water is hosting their Annual Tree and Plant Sale! The sale focuses on Ohio-native plants that grow well in our soils. From tree and shrub bundles, to container plants (including many perennials), to fruit trees, and even specific specialty and seed and packets, the sale has something for everyone.

Visit the Franklin Soil and Water website for more information regarding the tree and plant sale and how to place an order.

Manufactured Homes Property Tax Bill Deadline March 1, 2016

from Treasurer

Franklin County owners of manufactured homes can expect a bill in the mail the first week of February 2016. Treasurer Ed Leonard would like to remind owners that they can make on line payments through his website. This is a fast, easy, and convenient way to pay. Be sure to have your parcel number to make it easier to search.

Check out FCCS Connects E-News

from Children Services

The latest issue of the Franklin County Children Services Connects E-Newsletter is here! Featured articles include:

  • Community Partner Spotlight: COVA;
  • Prevalence of Child Abuse in Franklin County; and
  • Meet Citizens Advisory Committee Member Elon Simms.

Click here to read the February 2016 edition of the Connects E-Newsletter.

Absentee Ballot Applications Now Available

from Board of Elections

(Columbus) Ohio will hold its 2016 primary election on March 15, but it is not too early to apply for an absentee ballot. Applications are available on our Web site or by calling the board of elections at (614) 525-3100.

Absentee voting by mail or in-person will begin Wednesday, Feb. 17. Voters will have 198 hours and 22 days-including three on weekends- to vote early. In-person early voting will take place in Franklin County at the board of elections, located at 1700 Morse Road, at the following times:

  • 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. - Wednesday, Feb. 17 through Friday, Mar. 4
  • 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - Saturday, Mar. 5
  • 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. - Monday, Mar. 7 through Friday, Mar. 11
  • 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - Saturday, Mar. 12
  • 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. - Sunday, Mar. 13
  • 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. - Monday, Mar. 14

Please note that early voting will begin on a Wednesday due to government offices being closed on the prior Monday for Presidents' Day.

Voters will need to request a ballot to vote absentee in the primary unlike in the fall when the Secretary of State will mail absentee applications to all registered voters. Voters must be registered by Feb. 15 to be eligible for the primary.

Conservation Fund Mini-Grants Now Available

from Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District

Each year profits from the Franklin Soil and Water annual meeting, silent auction and tree sale are dedicated to the Conservation Fund, which supports the implementation of small conservation projects throughout Franklin County. These funds are made available through an annual mini-grant program to outside organizations for conservation implementation.

In 2016, the Conservation Fund will provide funding for up to three (3) grants. Visit the Franklin Soil and Water website for grant criteria and information on how to apply.

Metro Parks Winter Hikes

from Metro Parks

Metro Parks Winter Hikes began January 2 at Blacklick Woods. Click here to view the 2016 hike schedule.

2016 Severe Weather Spotter Training

from Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEM&HS) and The Ohio State University Emergency Management are co-sponsoring the annual Tornado and Severe Weather Spotter Seminar by the National Weather Service (NWS) on Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at The Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus. The training and parking are free and open to the public.

Visit the FCEM&HS website for more information regarding the training and registration.

Ballot Set for March Primary

from Board of Elections

The Franklin County Board of Elections certified candidates and issues for the March 15, 2016 primary this afternoon.

Petitions were certified for 426 candidates with 23 others denied certification due to a lack of valid signatures or because of errors by the circulators. Five local tax issues and nine local liquor options were certified. Five other liquor options failed to make the ballot because of insufficient signatures. Unsuccessful petitioners have until Jan. 4 to file a protest with the board.

Primary voters will nominate candidates for president, Congress, state and county offices with winners advancing to the general election in November. Democrats and Republicans will elect candidates to serve on the central committees of their county party.

Voters have until Feb. 15 to register for the 2016 primary. Our Web site has two links to help them. Registration forms are available at There's also a link to update your voting address at . Nearly 838,000 are presently registered in Franklin County.

FCCS Accent on Kids

from Children Services

The Winter 2015 edition of Franklin County Children Services Accent on Kids is now available. Features include:

  • Help Children Through Holiday Wish;
  • New Reeb Center Assists Families; and
  • Agency Youth Finds Healing Through Art.

Click here to read the Accent on Kids Winter 2015 edition.