Ohio state representative Kathleen Chandler introduced a bill this week that would establish a program to protect the confidentiality of domestic violence victims. The bill would amend current law to “establish an address confidentiality program for individuals who reasonably believe that they are in danger of being threatened or physically harmed by another person.”
The program would allow “An adult person, a parent, or a guardian acting on behalf of a minor, incompetent, or ward” to “apply with the assistance of an application assistant to the secretary of state to have an address designated by the secretary of state serve as the person’s address or the address of the minor, incompetent, or ward.” Applicants must sign a statement that they fear for the safety of themselves and/or their dependents and provide proof that they have been the victim of a specific violent crime or is under protection of a court order. The Secretary of State’s office would run the program and serve as an intermediary for mail and election-related correspondence. Mail for protected individuals would be sent to the Secretary of State’s office and then forwarded to the participants’ actual address.
Ohio’s current Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, worked closely with Chandler and domestic violence organizations to develop the program. In the statement released by the office of the Secretary of State, “Representative Chandler offers a real and direct path to saving lives-privacy and relief from fear, intimidation and the instability of being stalked or threatened.” Currently, a variety of address confidentiality programs are in place in 37 states. Of those, 19 programs are administered by the secretary of state.