February 27, 2024

‘Safe at Home’ allowed for voting

Program began in 2015

Much of the discussion about counting votes in last month’s general election was about how many people in certain demographic groups voted. There’s one group that was able to vote without having its safety or personal data made available to those who might harm them, according to the Iowa Secretary of State.

Paul Pate, the Iowa Secretary of State, announced the Safe at Home program allowed many Iowans to vote in the Nov. 8 election with the assistance of his department. While exact numbers weren’t released, the department aided Safe at Home program participants in about one-third of Iowa counties with confidential voting.

Safe at Home is a free state-sponsored program that supplies a confidential address for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and trafficking. The Secretary of State’s office helps provide participants a legal substitute address, mail-forwarding service and confidential voter registration.

Actual physical address of participants will not appear on public records.

“It’s obvious there is a need for this program,” Pate told the Newton Daily News. “I am pleased to report that around one-third of Safe at Home program participants voted in the November 2016 elections. Some of them told it this was the first time in many years they had voted.”

Pate and his staff have made a concerted effort to publicize information about the program and how it can aid victims. Shortly after a widely supported 2015 legislative bill, SF 383, set up the provisions of the program in 2015, Pate came to Newton and traveled to other cities for roundtable discussions about Safe at Home.

“We also still have a lot of work to do in promoting it to the people of Iowa so that those folks who might be looking for a way out of an abusive situation can take that step,” he said. “We also have new business card-sized brochures that are available at every Iowa rest stop.”

Pate said voters would not have been able to cast a ballot without exposing their home address if they were not participating in Safe at Home. However, one-third participation in voting is a statistic he’d like to change.

“This shows the program is working,” he said. “These folks have been able to return to a sense of normalcy and become active citizens again. That’s what Safe at Home is all about, but we would like all of them to participate in elections in the future.”

For more info on Safe at Home, visit SafeatHome.iowa.gov or 515-725-SAFE email SafeatHome@iowa.gov. Information is also available through the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-770-1650 and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault at 1-800-284-7821.

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com