State program helps survivors of domestic abuse register to vote and keep their information private
The Nevada Confidential Address Program (CAP) provides participants with a fictitious address
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - One thing that will remain private when casting your ballot this November is whom you voted for. However, other voter data like your home address is publicly listed when you register, which can be a barrier to voting for some.
For survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking who live in fear for their safety, putting their information on public records can be dangerous.
Thankfully, there is a program helping keep survivors safe.
“One of the worst feelings that survivors often have is feeling like they have to keep looking behind their shoulder,” said Alyssa Ropell, development coordinator at the Domestic Violence Resource Center (DVRC).
At DVRC, advocates help survivors register for the Nevada Confidential Address Program or CAP.
“It’s a pretty short application but individuals must work with certified entities to complete the process and all of the Domestic Violence Resource Center advocates are certified to help clients through this process.”
CAP was established during the 1997 Legislative session in Senate Bill 155 authored by Senator Mark James. In 2017 Legislative session transferred the administration of CAP to the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
Participants of the program are granted a fictitious mailing address to maintain their confidentiality.
“That way if a perpetrator were to search their name, they can not easily find them,” said Serena Evans, MPAP, policy coordinator at the Nevada Coalition to END Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (NCEDSV). “What this does is a mail forwarding service so the state actually then receives their mail.”
As of May, 25 of this year, there are 1,593 total people registered in the CAP program, this includes the applicant and any family located in the household.
The program also offers participants a confidential voter registration form, which can be returned to DCFS or the office of the Secretary of State, where they have one person dedicated to handling the names in CAP.
“We provide it (voter registration form) to the county after redacting the physical address,” said Mark Wlaschin, Deputy Secretary of State for Elections. “We don’t transmit that via email or something else that would be a public document. We transmit that securely.”
Wlaschin said once elections are closer, they talk to county election officials again to identify the precincts associated with the addresses, without using the names associated with those addresses.
“Election officials send those ballots to us, and we provide those ballots to the voters who then fill it out and cast their ballots the same as everybody else,” he said.
To be eligible, survivors need a temporary protection order in place and a police report or a document from an advocate indicating the victim is receiving services.
According to Wlaschin, the office of the Secretary of State goes to extensive lengths to make sure they’re not revealing participants’ information.
“We now have automatic voter registration, which means that an individual can go to the DMV and if they update a number of covered transactions, they automatically register to vote here in the state,” he said. “There’s an opt-out process but some people, even folks in the Confidential Address Program, may not know about it or be aware of the opting-out process and may inadvertently be registered to vote in the public-facing.”
He explains the office runs a query against the statewide voter registration list every day and checks for CAP participants’ names. “To make sure that if someone’s name is there, accidentally, that we immediately work to remove it so that it retains its confidentiality,” said Wlaschin.
Voting can be done in person or by absentee ballot without revealing the person’s address.
For the 2022 general elections, 29 ballots have been sent to CAP participants in Washoe County.
To learn more about CAP, you can reach out to Program Officer Gina Hinds at (888) 432-6189 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find more information: https://www.ncedsv.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Civic-Engagement-Toolkit-2022.pdf
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