Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Journal of Voter Suppression, 2012 -South Carolina Edition

How long will our elders have to CONTINUE TO PAY for living under Jim Crow?

From The State.com:

Many face fight to prove ID
No birth certificate, no photo ID, no registering to vote:A dilemma for tens of thousands born in ’40s, ’50s, ’60s
by DAWN HINSHAW - dhinshaw@thestate.com

Ruth Johnson remembers being sent to the pay phone in the middle of the night to call the midwife when her mother’s labor pains started.

“I called the midwife. She said she was coming. She never did show up,” Johnson said, thinking back to life as a 12-year-old in Barnwell County in the late 1950s.

Before long, Ruth’s mother sent her back to the pay phone at the Hilda grocery store. The second time, the midwife admitted she had no intention of coming to help with the birth. “She said, ‘Your mama, she owes me $25 for the last baby.’”

And so the baby was born in the family home, without a birth certificate — a common practice in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s in rural South Carolina, but one that is causing problems now for an older generation required to have proof of identification.

Before the government began discouraging midwifery in the 1970s, a lot of women in rural South Carolina didn’t go to hospitals to have their babies, either because of the cost, discrimination or culture. Often, the births were unrecorded, whether a midwife was in attendance or not. In some cases, names were misspelled by illiterate midwives or recorded incompletely when parents couldn’t settle on a first name right away.

But having no birth certificate, or having one where the name conflicts with other legal documents, can cause problems today proving one’s identification — and getting the photo ID required to get a job, travel, go into public buildings and, in a recent and controversial change in South Carolina, register to vote.

In some cases, people who have never had a problem before must now go to family court to authenticate the names they have used all their lives.

Joseph Williams, a physician who sees mostly elderly patients in Sumter, guessed as many as 20 percent of his 3,000 to 4,000 regular patients have problems with identification. Some only know the year they were born.

“It’s extremely common for people who are over 50,” said Williams, who is 60. “Record-keeping was poor in our age group.”

And a birth certificate is considered the “seed document” for establishing one’s identity, making it more important to own — and protect — than in years past, said Adam Myrick, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, which oversees the state’s vital-records division.

No one knows how many South Carolinians don’t have a birth certificate. One indicator may be a tally by the S.C. Election Commission, which shows 178,175 voters do not own a photo ID, according to the latest available figures.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed a law requiring voters to show a photo ID — either a driver’s license, passport, military ID, new voter registration card or a state-issued ID.

But getting a state-issued ID requires a birth certificate.

For those who don’t have a birth certificate, the state’s vital-records division requires at least three documents from a list that includes marriage and school records, military and medical records, the birth certificates of siblings and children and voter registration documents.

But there’s a hitch.

The name must be identical on each document used as proof of identification: no nicknames, middle initials or other variations.

“The law is very specific: The name has to be the same,” said DHEC spokesman Thom Berry. “This is not a South Carolina issue; this is a national issue.”

Mr. Berry is indeed correct - this is a NATIONAL issue.

Because, our Black Elders who lived under Jim Crow, and this kind of lack of record keeping, live all over the country, and I wonder how many live in these states where these Voter ID laws have been enacted.

And now, in their twilight years, the people who actually FOUGHT, and got their asses beat to get the right to vote, can now see that right taken away because of these VOTER SUPPRESSION VOTER ID LAWS.

IF you have elders with this situation, you need to sit them down, and help them get their papers together. It's more than just voting, though voting rights are important. This could mess with their Social Security and other things.

1 comment:

Citizen Ojo said...

Good Post... Very Good Post...