Welcome to VoteRiders’ third installment of Do You Really Want Your Right to Vote Determined by the DMV?
Today we share Raymond’s story. Like many in the pre-Civil Rights-era South, Raymond Rutherford was born in his home in Sumter County, South Carolina. The midwife who delivered him misspelled his first name and put his mother’s maiden name as his last name on his birth certificate. His voter registration card, tax returns and pay stubs all bear his correct name. Because of the discrepancy between these records and his birth certificate, Raymond couldn’t get the ID he needed to vote without obtaining a delayed birth certificate (the same type of complicated and expensive document we mentioned in the first installment of this series). In order to secure a delayed birth certificate, Raymond would need the services of an attorney, which he certainly couldn't afford. Fortunately for Raymond, he was able to get help from Dr. Brenda Williams’ organization, The Family Unit, a nonprofit whose mission includes the encouragement of voter participation. Obtaining a delayed birth certificate can take months. Like the other citizens we’ve highlighted in past installments, Raymond has voted in every election since he turned 18.
Luckily for Raymond, South Carolina’s voter ID law was put on hold until 2013 so he was able to vote last month. Dr. Williams continues to work with countless others in South Carolina who have the same problem as Raymond. According to Dr. Williams:
…these individuals all have social security numbers, Medicare numbers, and many receive Supplemental Security Income. Millions of these persons receive Medicaid. In other words, all of these citizens already are well-known to our federal government as well as state governments. The vast majority of them have paid taxes in their lifetimes and many of them still are paying taxes.... just as is the case of Mr. Raymond Rutherford.Do you share some of Dr. Williams’ frustration? We’ve featured only three stories of just how difficult it can be to procure the underlying documents necessary to ultimately obtain identification that can be required to vote. These three individuals represent thousands of others across the country. So, you ask - what are we doing about this? Tune in on Friday when we’ll share our plans!
I feel that they suffer discrimination and prejudicial treatment in this country and are denied civil rights, human rights as well as voting rights due to them being born during a time in our country when documentation of births was not considered important by government officials.