This is an important election year, but domestic violence survivors may hesitate to register to vote if they fear that voter registration records will reveal their current location. Survivors of domestic violence can take numerous steps to ensure their safety such as moving, changing their email address, their phone numbers, deleting social media accounts and other actions to keep their residence confidential from the perpetrator. But it isn’t easy to erase your location, and many government records are public and easily searchable. Luckily, Washington State has a streamlined process that allows victims to keep their home, work and school addresses confidential.

A New Washington State Program Helps Abuse Victims Keep Personal Information Private

The Washington Secretary of State is charged with fulfilling the Address Confidentiality Program, or ACP, which is a program created to help ensure the safety of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking or stalking offenses by keeping their address confidential. The ACP information on the Secretary of State’s website answers many questions, provides videos and lists the location of Application Assistants who are available to help residents in every county.

How Does the ACP Assure the Privacy of Domestic Violence Survivors?

How does it work? The ACP gives participants a substitute address that can be used for participation in all sorts of state and local agency programs without revealing their physical residence or mailing address. The ACP forwards all first-class mail, including registered and certified mail, but cannot forward packages, magazines, or junk mail. The participant can use the alternate address with nearly every state and local program. Courts, banks, schools, and governmental agencies must accept the ACP substitute address as an actual address and cannot require participants to disclose their actual address. The substitute address can be listed on the victim’s vehicle registration and driver’s license and all government issued licenses including marriage licenses.

The ACP is the best way for victims to exercise their right to vote. ACP participants receive ACP voter registration information and ACP specific voting forms. ACP participants should not register to vote online or at any other government office.

Of course, ACP participation cannot guarantee the safety of a victim. But it can be a valuable addition to an overall safety plan. The ACP is intended to supplement, and not substitute for, a comprehensive safety plan. For assistance in obtaining legal protection and a comprehensive safety plan, victims of domestic violence can rely on the services of the family law lawyers at Molly B. Kenny, LLC.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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