The two major party candidates for Iowa Secretary of State say they agree on a program that would help victims of some crimes vote without the fear of putting themselves at risk. Democrat Brad Anderson released his “Safe at Home” plan Wednesday.
“These polices help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault stay safe by providing them a designated address to use for official documents like voter registration,” Anderson explains. “And these services keep survivor’s physical address out of the hands of their assailment.”
Anderson says he heard about the program at a conference where the Secretary of State from Missouri and his counterpart in Minnesota spoke about their programs. He says 35 states have such a program, but Iowa does not.
“Currently in Iowa, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who want to both remain anonymous and also vote are in a very difficult position,” Anderson says. “They are advised by the state to register and vote on election day, but then immediately cancel their voter registration. But, even given this cumbersome process, it still does not guarantee their anonymity.”
Anderson says it would take a change in state legislation to implement the program here. “We estimate about a thousand Iowans would participate in this program and the program would grow annually,” Anderson says. He says if he is elected, he would push to get the program passed in the next session of the legislature.
Republican Paul Pate is running against Anderson, and says he also favors such a program “It think the program is very important to protecting Iowans, it’s a top priority. As a former state senator I led legislation to toughen penalties for stalking victims in Iowa. I have first-hand experience as a state senator and mayor working with the state legislature and governor. And if I was the next Secretary of State I would make it a priority to join the other 35 states,” Pate says.
Pate says he has already started the groundwork to get such legislation passed. “I’ve had conversations with the speaker of the House and with the governor’s office and started the dialogue. They were very receptive to it. I think we could get something worked out and I think we would see something passed in the upcoming the legislative session,” according to Pate.
Pate says he’d also like to see another voting issue passed in the next session. “Just as Safe at the Home offers participants an additional safeguard for their protection, I think we also have to protect the integrity of all Iowa voters with a voter ID safeguard,” Pate says. “I think both priorities are important, they need to be approached in a bipartisan manner, and I think I have the experience to get that done.
Current Secretary of State, Republican Matt Schultz, is not seeking reelection.