GREENVILLE — Under a new state law, victims of domestic violence and other crimes can now shield their home addresses from public documents.
The Safe at Home initiative, which went into effect on September 8, is an address confidentiality program that allows victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery to apply for an address designated by the Secretary of State to serve as the person’s address to shield their residence address from public records, including the voter registration lists.
Victims can apply to participate in the program only through a certified application assistant, which is an employee or volunteer at an agency or organization that serves victims of domestic violence and who has received training and certification from the secretary of state to help individuals complete applications to be program participants.
Annie Sonner, Greenville Shelter from Violence, Inc. coordinator, said that she plans to get certified in the future to assist those in Darke County.
“It’s a good program and there will be a group of people who will utilize it,” she said.
When someone enrolls in Safe at Home, they are assigned a P.O. Box address. There are many entities that may have a person’s name and address on file, and a program participant may request that any governmental or private entity, except for a municipal-owned public utility or the board of elections, use the P.O. Box address as the participant’s address however, the law does not require a private entity to accept the designated address, but a state governmental entity will accept it.
Participants will also be issued identification numbers for use in requesting and participating in elections.
Additionally, the program will allow victims to register to vote without their records appearing in the Statewide Voter Registration Database, and vote absentee without their residence address being compromised.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, there are more than 60,000 victims of domestic violence in Ohio each year. The program would be funded by offender fees and would cost an estimated $40,000 a year.
For more information and to view a list of Safe at Home advocates, visit www.SafeAtHomeOhio.com or call 614-995-2255.