Today State Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) announced passage of House Bill 359, which establishes an Address Confidentiality Program for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Ohio.
This legislation allows for domestic violence victims, as well as victims of rape, sexual battery, menacing by stalking and human trafficking to safely register to vote while keeping their home address confidential. The victims would be assigned an Address Confidentiality Program number that they can use instead of their home address when filling out an election ballot.
“House Bill 359 addresses an issue that while difficult to talk about, restores some of the most fundamental rights lost by victims of domestic violence,” Rep. Koehler said. “We often take for granted these rights, but as legislators, we must make sure to protect these individuals.”
Since vehicle and voter registrations are both public record, many domestic violence victims who have escaped their abusers often choose to not register to vote or participate in other government registrations out of fear their abuser will be able to find them. Under this legislation, any personal information about a victim who participates in the Address Confidentiality Program is exempt from the public record.
The Secretary of State’s office will administer this program by assigning each participant with an ACP number and PO Box that the victim can use as an official address for government functions. The only individuals who are able to access the participant’s full information are the county board of elections for the purposes of verifying voter eligibility and law enforcement officers with a legitimate government purpose.
In addition to other government agencies recognizing a victim’s ACP number, the program also permits participants to request their employer, school or institution of higher education use the PO Box assigned to them by the Secretary of State’s office.
House Bill 359 passed unanimously and now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. If passed by the Ohio Senate, Ohio will become the 38th state to have an address confidentiality program.