I’m a young female Tory candidate, would you like my home address?

Well you can’t have it. Not this year. This is the firsttime in local elections that candidates don’t have to include their home addresson the ballot paper. Parliamentary candidates already have this privilege and its welcome progress that this protective perk has been rolled out to prospective councillors.

I’ve heard mixed messages from fellow campaigners about notdeclaring home addresses publicly. From ‘Get ready for criticism from voters’ to “This isn’t Belfast in the 1970s, bit paranoid isn’t it?”

There is absolutely no need for people to know a candidate’s exact home address. If local candidates wish to include it, by all means they’re welcome to, but I’m perfectly happy with ‘Address in Wokingham Borough’ being under my name on the ballot paper. It shows the Council’s Electoral Services office recognises the home address given to them is legitimate for nomination. What more is needed?

Some candidates will want to big up their local credentials,that’s a good thing, but there should be the option to not have to pinpoint your home. Saying in leaflets that a candidate ‘lives in the heart of the ward’ or even a particular street would do the trick without marking out their specific house.

I’m a young woman who lives on my own and feel it’s pretty reasonable to not want my home address easily findable on the internet for the whole world through published nomination papers. When I found out I didn’t have to publish my home address publicly as a pre-requisite to standing this year, I was over-the-moon.

Since being a councillor I’ve had my identity stolen and been the victim of fraud on numerous occasions. I’m sure this has been down to my name, phone number and home address all being online. Us local councillors give a load of work to Action Fraud. All the official advice on protecting yourself from fraud seems to go out the window when it comes to local elections. Until now.

In a time when we want more women to come forward to stand for parliament and local councils it’s common-sense that local elections no longer demand people’s home addresses be slapped across the internet. This change may seem small but will hopefully encourage more people to stand. How many women have been put off standing at the prospect of telling the world where their young children live? We’ll never know, but thankfully that obstacle has now been taken away.

I have been comforted by seeing many candidates, men and women, long-serving councillors and new candidates not including their addresseson ballot papers this year. I thought it would just be me and am so happy people of all parties recognise its merit.

Some may think it’s a bit much to want to withdraw your home address, especially in safe sleepy villages. But after the tragic murder of JoCox MP still fresh in people’s memories, rampant social media threats to candidates and a divided country, taking away any unnecessary potential safety risks is a must.

Yes, some in the polling booth who haven’t completely made-up their mind may be warmer towards the one with a published address. What do the others have to hide they may wonder – do they really live in Russia? But for me, and for other candidates, it will be worth it to know our home addressesare not in the hands of every potential angry loon.ale10U

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