COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With two major issues on the ballot this fall, there is a program in Ohio that grants people extra privacy when they register to vote or update their records.
“Any avenue, any resource, any tool that’s going to be able to give them their power back is a gift,” Catch Court Program Leader for Franklin County Municipal Courts Gwen England said.
The program is called Safe at Home, and first became effective in 2016. Secretary of State Frank Larose (R-Ohio) said it is thanks to brave survivors.
“A group of courageous domestic violence survivors came forward and said we are having to choose between our precious right to vote and our safety,” LaRose said. “Of course, no one should have to make that choice.”
The program allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual battery, human trafficking, rape or menacing by stalking to shield their address both from voting records and from home ownership records.
“If you’re a survivor of domestic violence and there’s a bad person out there who is still trying to harm you, you can register to vote with a fictitious address,” LaRose said.
Larose said when the program first started — there were 200 participants — now there are 2,000. The application to join can be found here.
LaRose said there are likely thousands of Ohioans who are living with the threat of someone who wants to harm them.
“It is giving them the ability to own a home, to be able to participate in democracy, and care for their children in a safe way,” England said. “And all those things are very significant in reclaiming their power.”