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Birth Certificates 101 (Part 1)

A birth at a location is a historical event. All states, according to their laws, register birth events and associated data (parents information, location, date of birth, etc.) about births that occur within its jurisdiction.

States receive birth information in a variety of ways. In the past and still in many states today, birth registration starts with a paper form, signed by someone at a hospital. States register birth events based on these hospital reports, verifying data quality and completeness, accepting, signing and stamping a number (a “state file number” or a “certificate number”). In some states birth registrations are done at the local level, where the record is then forwarded to the State. (This appears to have been the process in Hawaii in the 1960’s.)

Sometimes, particularly for births that are not reported close to the time of birth, registrations are based on information sworn by individuals who have direct knowledge of the facts of birth. These special registrations are called Delayed Certificates. Any birth registration not attended by a licensed medical practitioner is called a “low doc” registration (low level of documentation). Delayed registrations and other “low doc” registrations are the most common source of registration fraud.

In modern systems, birth events are either transmitted to the state vital records agency in an electronic data file, or hospitals directly enter their births into a state-supplied software system directly connected to the state. With the advent of electronic health records (EHR), hospital systems are going paperless. There is no longer any hospital paper form.

States under their laws and regulations certify to others that births are registered. Sometimes they photocopy registered hospital reports onto security paper, stamp and seal them. Nowadays, when there there are no hospital records to photocopy (or because electronic certificate issuance is more efficient), they print information from their computer databases onto security paper, stamp and seal those. However the state does it, the result is a “certified copy” or a “birth certificate”.

Under the  Electronic Verification of Vital Events (EVVE) project, currently operating in several states, birth verification is all electronic. Paper birth certificates may soon become all but obsolete. I could easily envision a secretary of state calling the local state DMV office to verify a candidate’s eligibility electronically with another state. EVVE should be in place in nearly all jurisdictions in time for the 2012 election.

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25 Responses to Birth Certificates 101 (Part 1)

  1. avatar
    richCares March 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    I was born at home, all I ever had was a baptism certificate. I had to get a delayed BC to obtain a passport. It took me 3 months, the state required notarized statements from 3 relatives and 3 non-relatives as well as the Church Baptism records. I had to do all this at the main US Office downtown, it took many trips bit I made it, but it was no piece of cake.

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 13, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Rich, this was Hawaii?

  3. avatar
    richCares March 13, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    No, that was Illinois, I moved to Hawaii and attended U of H around 1961. (after USMC)

  4. avatar
    thisoldhippie March 13, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    WOW, not only was I just banned from Plains Radio, but all of my posts regarding President Obama’s birth certificate – copying and pasting url and the good doctor’s url – were deleted from the subject matter, even though “SC” left his responses. And I thought we liberals were supposed to be the communists! How is it that we encourage open discussion of differing opinions and back our discussions up with real evidence, while these birthers just love to silence the opposition.

  5. avatar
    richCares March 13, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    as a curious note, I met all the African exchange students at U of H in the 60’s and most likely met Obama’s dad, but I don’t remember anyone’s name so I don’t know for sure.

  6. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 13, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    If a web site censors comments so as to present a one-sided argument, one wonders whether the site thinks its visitors are incapable of telling truth from falsehood (and hence protecting them from dissenting views) or that its visitors are capable of telling truth from falsehood (and so want to make sure they never hear the truth).

    Me, I just believe that the truth will out–whether it’s mine or somebody else’s version.

    That said, there is relative little posted here promoting birther or NBC arguments. Apuzzo showed up, but he didn’t debate. Heavy doesn’t debate. Hitandrun seems more interested in standing and process. Sally Hill is probably the most persistent.

    Some of the NBC arguments look really good on the surface and as long as only one side is heard.

  7. avatar
    thisoldhippie March 14, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    I agree completely! I was not confrontational. I posted a reply to a post that stated Pres. Obama’s BC did not have a seal or signature. I used the factcheck url with the pics of the BC showing the seal and signature stamp. I was immediately called a liar and that I was full of it. I then stated that the stamp was clearly visible, as was the signature stamp. I was then told to see an email the poster had received from a Hawaiian official stating that the BC was a forgery. I posted the url to your article regarding the “forgery experts” that the birthers are using as proof and then I was going to copy the url for SC’s email so that I could see it for myself, but before I could do that all of my posts were deleted and I was banned. SC left all of his/her replies which at least will be obvious to others that someone was trying to get a dissenting opinion out there, but I doubt any of them will care. I purposely read and listen to opposing views so to keep an open mind.

  8. avatar
    Koyaan March 14, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    They’re just cowards. The whole lot of them.

    They talk a big game, but then run and hide behind the mommy’s skirt of censorship whenever someone calls their bluff.


  9. avatar
    Bob Weber March 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    “Free Republic” is banning people who try to talk sense to the birfers. The poster “Michael Michael” was just purged. He should have known better than to use facts and logic in posts, and ask for evidence of dubious assertions. Meanwhile the birfers screech like howler monkeys.

  10. avatar
    Hitandrun March 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    Thanks, Doc, for the primer.
    You might consider posting an ongoing list of those sites, whether Obot or Nobot, that ban opposing viewpoints.


  11. avatar
    Koyaan March 14, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    “Free Republic” is banning people who try to talk sense to the birfers. The poster “Michael Michael” was just purged. He should have known better than to use facts and logic in posts, and ask for evidence of dubious assertions. Meanwhile the birfers screech like howler monkeys.

    Yes. And then go whining to Admin Moderator like children. Which ultimately they are as they behave like a bunch of gradeschoolers.

    I was Michael Michael by the way. It was like the fourth or fifth account I’d had on FR. And since I was able to continue posting there for as long as I had under that moniker, I thought that FR had finally stopped protecting the Birthers.

    Obviously I was wrong.


  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Tracking bans is really not within scope for my interests. Thanks for the suggestion, though. I don’t know any Obot site that bans.

  13. avatar
    Bob Weber March 14, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Koyaan (“Michael Michael”): Just wondering – did they give you a reason why you were purged? I was purged long ago at Free Republic.

  14. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 15, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    “sleeper troll”

  15. avatar
    Koyaan March 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    Koyaan (”Michael Michael”): Just wondering – did they give you a reason why you were purged? I was purged long ago at Free Republic.

    Reason given was simply: Troll


  16. avatar
    Zuzu March 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    I came across an interesting comment over at the blog run by the “Alan” of the long-form Hawaiin BC fame. Noting that “Alan” had said the BC was certified in 1998, a commenter stated:

    Ordering one in 1998 has no bearing on 2008. Order a fresh copy as was suggested months ago and see what you get. Same type of COLB as Obama. That’s all HI DOH sends since the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. That type of short form is all some states send. It is the default choice many others send though they offer a long form. Either way both are legally just as valid and indicate county and state of birth.

    I looked up the federal act the commenter mentioned, and according to the Congressional Research Service, it does indeed require certain uniformity in the issuance of birth records by states.
    (see CRS-8 (screen 11) and following)

    I’m not sure exactly how this would bear on any requirement to issue only a COLB, but thought it worth noting.

    Apologies if this is addressed elsewhere.

  17. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    A nice bit of research, Zuzu. Thanks!

  18. avatar
    Bob March 20, 2009 at 2:13 am #

    Shut down this web site; here’s the birth certificate that the birfers are looking for.

  19. avatar
    Zuzu March 21, 2009 at 2:17 am #

    My pleasure, Dr. C. Thanks for the great site.

  20. avatar
    myson March 21, 2009 at 3:52 am #

    funny !!!

  21. avatar
    Gordon March 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    The Mission Veijo Dispatch, home town paper of Dr. Tatiz printed an article “Will MV Dentist Remove Barack Obama’s Smile”. It’s a favorable article about Dr. Tatiz. Letters to the editor were interesting, to say the least. The editor would respond to posters who asserted that the lawsuit is nonsense. When I sent in my thoughts he did not post them and sent me an interesting response.

    Dear Contributor,

    Thanks for your comment to the Dispatch. It appears your submission may have been sent anonymously or with a pseudonym. In order to preserve the integrity and quality of the publication, all contributions require the writer’s correct first and last name. This is similar to letters to the editor in printed newspapers and public comments at city meetings. Please reply with your correct first and last name so we can promptly post your message.

    The MVD is a hometown news blog, not a political blog. The Taitz story is covered simply as a matter of public interest about a local person, so perhaps it would be better to direct your political indignation to political publication.


    Brad Morton, Editor

    My original post.
    I have never read a sloppier editorial in my life. It is lacking in any basic journalistic research. Let me begin with the so-called “merits” of this case. Obama’s COB, as examined by Fact has the required signature stamp of the State of Hawaii Registrar. It is perfectly acceptable by the U.S State Department, and is the exact form I used to receive my passport. A cursory check by the editor would have revealed that to be true (doesn’t your paper have a research or legal dept?) No large county in this country has an actual signature, but uses the signature stamp, due to the sheer volume.
    Most revealing about the editorial is the lack of any basic background about Dr. Orly Tatiz herself, nothing about her litigation experience, nothing about her educational background. Dr. Orly Tatiz is a graduate of the William Howard Taft Law School, of California. I use the term “law school” advisedly; it is a distance learning school only. In other words Dr. Tatiz had no class room experience, she took online class. Because of that status, Taft is not accredited, however California allows it’s students to take what’s known as “the baby bar exam” for first year law students. Dr. Tatiz cannot practice law outside the state of California, because no other state will recognize her thin credentials. The SCOTUS, does not hear the cases of any attorney, Dr. Tatiz would have to apply and be credentialed by The U.S Supreme Court Bar. A cursory check by the editor would have revealed that. Dr. Tatiz has not been credentialed and won’t be.

  22. avatar
    Zuzu March 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    Maybe you should respond with a few examples of Orly and her followers stalking people.

  23. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 24, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    I got the same reply. However, that web site is not a real newspaper. It’s just a blog.

  24. avatar
    Gordon March 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    I have been banned twice from Freepers, once from Politco, and four times from Team Sarah. My post are always respectful, but the all hate facts that contradicts their premise. By the way I am back at Team Sarah, a site that claims to promote Caribou Barbie, but has degenerated into a site of inserectionist and birthers.

  25. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm #