COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced his “Safe at Home” initiative has been endorsed by 36 county prosecuting attorneys from across Ohio as well as numerous advocacy groups and non-profit organizations.
The address listed on a voter’s registration is, by statute, a public record and logged within the individual county’s voter rolls and reported to the Secretary of State for inclusion in the Statewide Voter Database. Victims’ advocates report that individuals who have been subject to violent crimes will commonly choose to not register to vote for fear that their attacker may be able to locate and harm them.
“It may not surprise many to know there are those in the world who do not vote out of fear for their personal safety,” Secretary Husted said. “But, it may come as surprise to find out those people are our friends and neighbors right here in Ohio.”
Secretary Husted’s Safe at Home initiative would, if approved by the legislature, allow victims to apply for a confidential address through the Secretary of State’s Office in order to shield their personal information from public view so they can register to vote and cast a ballot without fear that their location may be disclosed to the public. Registrants would work through a victim’s advocate, who can connect them with additional services that ensure their safety and well-being, to enroll in the program.
Currently, 36 different county prosecutors have endorsed the common sense legislation.
The initiative has also been endorsed by 10 mayors and three city police chiefs.
A number of organizations and law enforcement and victim advocacy groups have also backed the measure, including: the Ohio Troopers Association, the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Ohio Municipal League, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the West Side Catholic Center, the Tri-County Help Center, Inc., Shelter from Violence, Inc., the Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven, Safe Harbour DV Shelter, Project Woman Springfield & Clark County, the Open Arms Domestic Violence & Rape Crisis Services, My Sister’s Place, My Sister’s House – Domestic Violence Shelter Program, the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland, Homesafe, Inc, the Highland County DV Task Force, the Domestic Violence Project, Inc, the Catholic Charities Regional Agency/Christina House, and the Caritas House Domestic Violence Shelter.
Secretary Husted’s Safe at Home initiative has been introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly as House Bill 359, jointly sponsored by Representatives Mike Duffey (R–Worthington) and Anne Gonzalez (R–Westerville), and Senate Bill 222, jointly sponsored by Senators Peggy Lehner (R–Kettering) and Sandra Williams (D–Cleveland). House Bill 359 passed the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously on January 27, 2016 and is awaiting a vote in the Ohio Senate.