A certified copy of a vital record (birth certificate, death certificate or marriage certificate) is issued only to an applicant who has a direct and tangible interest in the record. The following persons are considered to have such an interest:
Letters of verification may be issued in lieu of certified copies (HRS §338-14.3). This document verifies the existence of a birth/death/marriage certificate on file with the Department of Health and any other information that the applicant provides to be verified relating to the vital event. (For example, that a certain named individual was born on a certain date at a certain place.) The verification process will not, however, disclose information about the vital event contained within the certificate that is unknown to and not provided by the applicant in the request.
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In the United States, there is no national (federal) birth registry, as you might see in other nations, such as the United Kingdom. Instead, birth certificates are issued by the states, which are obligated under law to report annual vital statistics data to the federal government. (Note that if a baby is born to American parents overseas, the U.S. Department of State collects that data.) Within each state, the management of birth certificates might be further decentralized, with data collected and certificates issued at the county or municipal level. Birth data is submitted to the state, county, or municipality by parents, doctors, midwives, and hospitals, typically via paper or electronic forms. The state and federal governments use this data to understand population changes, childbirth trends, maternal and fetal health and mortality, new parent demographics, and other trends that inform policymakers.
The documentation of births and other vital statistics (e.g., birth, death, marriage, divorce) has been a long-standing tradition among populations for centuries, typically through individual families or their churches. The idea that a government should also record this vital information is a relatively modern development. The United Kingdom was the first country to mandate collection of birth data at the national level in 1853. The United States began collecting birth data at the national level in 1902, via the U.S. Census. Certain individual states had already been collecting birth data, including Virginia, which began collecting data as a colony in 1632 and Massachusetts in 1639, so it became a matter of getting each state to follow suit. The federal government first developed a standard birth certificate application form in 1907, five years after the Census Bureau began collecting data. The current system of the states collecting data and reporting it to the federal government developed between 1915, when the federal government mandated that states collect and report the data, and 1933, by which time all of the states were participating. In 1946, responsibility for collecting and publishing vital statistics at the national level shifted from the Census Bureau to the national Office of Vital Statistics, which is now the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Today, the NCHS is part of the Centers for Disease Control, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Birth certificates in the United States generally consist of the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth application form, which states use to collect the data to issue a formal birth certificate, and the birth certificate document that states issue to individuals.
Theories have persisted despite Obama's pre-election release of his official Hawaiian birth certificate in 2008, confirmation by the Hawaii Department of Health based on the original documents, the April 2011 release of a certified copy of Obama's original Certificate of Live Birth (or long-form birth certificate), and contemporaneous birth announcements published in Hawaii newspapers. Polls conducted in 2010 (before the April 2011 release) suggested that at least 25% of adult Americans said that they doubted Obama's U.S. birth, and a May 2011 Gallup poll found that the percentage had fallen to 13% of American adults (23% of Republicans). The fall was attributed to Obama's release of the long form in April 2011.
From the start of March 2008, rumors that Obama was born in Kenya before being flown to Hawaii were spread on conservative websites, with the suggestion that this would disqualify Obama from the presidency. In April of that year, some supporters of Hillary Clinton circulated anonymous chain emails repeating the same rumor; among them was an Iowa campaign volunteer, who was fired when the story emerged. These and numerous other chain e-mails during the subsequent presidential election circulated false rumors about Obama's origin, religion, and birth certificate.
On June 9, 2008, Jim Geraghty of the conservative website National Review Online suggested that Obama release his birth certificate. Geraghty wrote that releasing his birth certificate could debunk several false rumors circulating on the Internet, namely: that his middle name was originally Muhammad rather than Hussein; that his mother had originally named him "Barry" rather than "Barack"; and that Barack Obama Sr. was not his biological father, as well as the rumor that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen.
The image is a scan of a laser-printed document obtained from and certified by the Hawaii Department of Health on June 6, 2007. It is a "Certification of Live Birth", sometimes referred to as a short form birth certificate, and contains less information than the longer "Certificate of Live Birth", which Hawaii no longer issues. Asked about this, Hawaiian Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo explained that Hawaii stopped issuing the longer "Certificate" in 2001 when their birth records were "put into electronic files for consistent reporting", and therefore Hawaii "does not have a short-form or long-form certificate". A "record of live birth", partially handwritten and partially typed, was created and submitted in 1961 when Obama was born, and is "located in a bound volume in a file cabinet on the first floor of the state Department of Health". The document was used to create the state's electronic records, and has been examined by state officials multiple times since the controversy began.
... this document is what he or someone authorized by him was given by the state out of its records. Barring some vast conspiracy within the Hawaii State Department of Health, there is no reason to think his [original] birth certificate would have any different data.
The release of the certificate in 2008 resulted in a fresh round of questions. It was asserted that the certificate had been digitally forged with Adobe Photoshop and lacked a stamped seal of the state, which led them to demand that Obama release his "original" 1961 birth certificate. Jerome Corsi, author of the book The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, told Fox News that "the campaign has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website ... it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It's a fake document that's on the Web site right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce." This view was rejected by FactCheck.org, which viewed the Obama campaign's hard copy of the Certification of Live Birth and reported that:
FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.
Corsi continued to cast doubt on Obama's birth certificate as late as March 2019. In a CNN interview, he stated, "I want to see the original 1961 birth records from Kenya, that'll settle it ... the State of Hawaii will not show those records to anyone." Corsi's attorney, Larry Klayman, falsely asserted during the same interview, "the birth certificate uses the word 'African-American' in 1961."
The director of Hawaii's Department of Health, Chiyome Fukino, issued a statement confirming that the state held Obama's "original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures". Noting "there have been numerous requests for Senator Barack Hussein Obama's official birth certificate," Fukino explained that the department was prohibited by state law from releasing it to "persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record". She said: "No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawaii." 2b1af7f3a8