Domestic Violence Victims Concerned About Voting Privacy

SPOKANE — Domestic violence victims wouldn’t want their attackers to be able to track them down, so there was some concern when it was uncovered that their personal information can become public when they vote.

The state does offer some measure of protection to domestic violence victims, but Washington Secretary of State Same Reed is trying to bulk up that protection, which would be welcome relief to at least one local victim of domestic violence.

The woman, who requested to remain anonymous, said her husband threatened to kill her several years ago and has been trying to hide from him ever since. Knowing her address is now available online because she is a registered voter seemed like a failure by the state…

“It makes you feel like your government doesn’t do what it should to protect you,” the woman said.

Secretary of State Sam Reed says the state does have a program to help protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Victims can register in the address confidentiality program and use a state address to keep their own private.

“They can use the secretary of state’s address as their mailing address for all purposes … voter registration, utility bills…” Reed said.

In the wake of Tacoma Police Chief David Brame shooting his wife and then killing himself in 2003, Reed is asking state lawmakers to add another layer of protection. If a person’s attacker is a law enforcement officer, the victim’s address would only be made available to law enforcement, if a court order requires it. 

Patty Wheeler with YWCA’s Domestic Violence program said Friday that domestic violence crosses all lines and certainly can and has involved police officers.