Arne Carlson | LeftMN photo
by Steve Timmer
Sep 15, 2012, 8:30 PM

“Baby Boy” Carlson II

In “Baby Boy” Carlson part one, there was a discussion of Lori Sturdevant’s Minnesota Matters blog post about Arne Carlson’s birth certificate, namely that it specified only the birth of a yet-unnamed baby boy. As we know, but the election judge won’t, Carlson did get a name and became the governor of Minnesota. Quite a success story, don’t you think?

The point of Sturdevant’s story was that Carlson might have some trouble getting a photo ID for voting. But she expresses a note of optimism for Carlson who, as a former governor, is clearly a champ at dealing with bureaucrats. But she does worry about the hoi polloi:

“The problem with flawed birth certificates is a lot bigger than people think,” Carlson said. If the amendment passes, he intends to look into what it would take to amend his at this rather late date.

As someone who knows his way around government red tape, that’s a chore Carlson likely can handle and afford. But it won’t be so for everyone who faces this problem and wants to vote, he predicted. Coming at a time when American democracy is already suffering from power residing in too few hands, it’s why he considers this amendment “absolutely frightening.”

So, let’s look at what it takes to amend a birth certificate. And I’ve got some bad news, Governor, it ain’t easy.

The following discussion is about amending a birth certificate in Minnesota, not New York where Governor Carlson was born, and where he would have to have his certificate amended. But it’s probably illustrative.

The first question is: are you supplying missing information Governor, or are you changing information? I’m going to go with changing, since “baby boy” is a name, well, of sorts. Then you need two documents that meet these requirements:

Document Requirements

Each document must show the information exactly as you want it to appear on the birth record.

 Each document must also show other information that matches the birth record already. Most documents need to show at least two of the following:

  • subject’s last name
  • subject’s date of birth
  • subject’s place of birth
  • a parent’s name
  • a parent’s date of birth
  • a parent’s place of birth

 Each document must show an established date that meets the following age requirements:

  • If the subject of the record is under 7, the documents must have been established (created) either more than one year ago or within the subject’s first year of life.
  • If the subject of the record is 7 or older, the documents must have been established (created) either more than seven years ago or within the subject’s first three years of life.

 Each document must be an original, a certified copy issued by a government office, or a copy authenticated by the person issuing the document to you.

  • Clinic and hospital records must be authenticated by the person giving you the records. They must give you a signed and dated letter on the clinic or hospital letterhead that verifies the document is a true and accurate copy of their records.
  • School records must be authenticated like clinic and hospital records or be official school transcripts.
  • Certified documents must be issued by government offices and include birth/death certificates, marriage certificates, military discharge forms, and court orders.

 Each document must be legible. Each document must be in English or submitted with a notarized English translation by a qualified or certified translator.

 Each document must show no sign of erasure, alteration, or change of pertinent information.

 Acceptable Document Types

 These documents will be considered [“considered,” not “accepted”] if each document meets all requirements:

  • authenticated school record or official school transcript
  • authenticated hospital or clinic record
  • valid passport
  • original or a certified copy of a US military discharge (such as a DD214 form)
  • certified copy of a marriage certificate
  • certified copy of a birth certificate of a child
  • certified copy of a birth certificate of a parent or sibling (these can only be used to amend parent information)
  • baptism certificate or other church record with a phone number to the church so the record may be verified
  • original or certified copy of a naturalization certificate
  • official tribal enrollment record
  • certified copy of a court order

 These documents are NOT acceptable to amend a birth record:

  • hospital souvenir birth certificate
  • driver’s license
  • state, employee, or other ID card or permit
  • social security card or statement
  • application of any kind
  • insurance card or policy
  • paycheck stub
  • tax return
  • bill
  • newspaper article

 Court Orders

Sometimes a court order that directs the birth record to be amended is required. A court order is required if information to be amended has been established by another court order, such as an adoption decree or paternity order. A court order is also required if a child’s last name has already been changed with a Recognition of Parentage form.

 If a court order specifically directs the birth record to be amended it could be the only document required. The court order must:

  • uniquely identify the birth record to be amended (contain the subject’s name as it currently appears on the birth record and the subject’s date of birth)
  • clearly identify which items are to be amended on the birth record
  • specifically direct the birth record to be amended in the “It Is Ordered” section of the court order

 For information on getting a court order please see the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.

 A court order that does not direct the birth record to be amended must meet all regular document requirements.

Piece of cake, right?

Let’s say the governor believes he has his document ducks in a row. He then must fill out an application and sign it in front of a notary public, send it in with a $40 filing fee to Central Cashiering at the Minnesota Department of Health (you can’t walk it in and get someone at a counter to help you (this was undoubtedly one of those superfluous jobs that Keith Downey and the Draz were all in favor of getting rid of), and I almost forgot: you have to complete the checklist.

Then the governor waits a month (that’s the current processing backlog).  If he dotted all of his “i’s” and crossed all of his “t’s” and his credit card didn’t expire while he waited, the record gets changed! Then he can buy a certified copy of the amended certificate. No word on exactly how long that will take.

But what if the governor wrote down the fax number rather than the phone number of the church where he was baptized? Too bad Governor! Go back and start over! That will be another $40, please!

None of this is included in the “free” photo ID that the amendment would offer.

Franz Kafka would be proud.

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