State Representative Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) announced passage of House Bill 359 by the Ohio House this week, legislation 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 seeks to make a difference in the lives of those who are senselessly victimized, and I was proud to cosponsor the legislation with my colleagues in the Ohio House,” said Rep. Manning. “This is common-sense legislation that will have a real impact on citizens of our state that feel the need to protect their address.”


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.


Virginia Beckham, Executive Director of Genesis House, a victim advocacy group in Lorain County, stated, "Address confidentiality is a critical component to ensuring safety for survivors of abuse, allowing them the opportunity to rebuild their lives without the constant danger of their abuser easily finding them. We at Genesis House are grateful for Representative Manning's sensitivity and commitment to survivors' safety."


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.

 
 
 
  
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