Many are often shocked to hear, as was I, that the addresses and personal information of domestic violence and stalking victims in Ohio is public record. This means that anyone, including the victim’s perpetrator, can easily use public documents, such as Ohio’s voting rolls, to locate an individual. That is, until now.


 


At the beginning of this month, House Bill 359 went into effect across Ohio, which allows domestic violence and stalking victims to shield their address and other personal information from public records. Not only will this help these victims to feel safe at home, but it will also give them the ability and peace-of-mind to register to vote, obtain an Ohio driver’s license or even get a library card.


 


House Bill 359 achieves this goal by providing domestic violence victims, victims of rape, sexual battery, and menacing by stalking and human trafficking who are registered for the program with an Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) number. This number is then assigned to a P.O. Box at the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, to be used for all state governmental records.


 


Additionally, the Address Confidentiality Program protects its participants by only allowing governmental agencies to access their home address simply on a need-to-know basis.  These instances include voter eligibility verification by the county board of elections, the Secretary of State’s office to administer the program and law enforcement officials for legal purposes or to provide emergency protection for threats to the victim’s safety.


 


The program further protects these victims by allowing participants to give their assigned P.O. Box address to their employer, school or institution of higher education in lieu of a home address.


 


I was proud to co-sponsor and vote in favor of this common sense legislation. Protecting Ohioans who have been neglected, abused, and harmed should always be a priority for our government leaders.


 


With the signing of House Bill 359 by Governor Kasich, our state joined the 36 other states to have an address confidentiality program. I know this legislation will help many victims live a normal and healthy life, and will give them exactly what they deserve after enduring such traumatic events: to feel safe at home.


 

 
 
 
  
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