Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 30, 2013

Demand for birth certificates puts strain on County Clerk office

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Birth certificate requests from people who now need that document to obtain or renew a driver’s license have almost tripled, so county clerks are now working on ways to streamline the time-consuming process.

Mercer County Clerk Verlin Moye estimated that his office now processes 300 to 500 birth-certificate requests a month. This is triple the requests the public made before the state Department of Motor Vehicles started using new identification standards for issuing and renewing driver’s licenses.

“What we’re doing right now, to get the pressure off my staff, is to go ahead and input the data for the birth certificates. We will go ahead and have those computerized,” Moye said Monday. “It will speed up the process.”

New birth certificates are filed by computer, but older ones are bound in large books, Moye said. Using them is a time-consuming job.

“They go into the book, and grab the birth certificate manually and type it out,” he said.

Many of the requests are for DMV license renewals. The new guidelines do not allow any room for errors. In the past, misspellings were acceptable, but this is not the case now, Moye stated. Typographical errors that happened years go now have to be corrected.

“It’s really strict. Everything has to match to the letter,” he said of the regulations.

In some cases, a new baby’s name was misspelled at a hospital. Some other cases involve people who got into the habit of using their middle name or initials instead of their first names. Finding the truth behind a discrepancy is often a challenge for the clerk’s office staff.

“There are a lot of variables, a lot of possibilities,” Moye said. “Some began when their birth certificates were filled out back at the hospital. People automatically assumed it was misspelled.”

County clerk offices have routinely handled requests for birth certificates, but the amount of work they generate keeps going up.

“Those requests have always been there, but the new DMV requirements have placed a hardship on all the county courthouses, so we’re looking for ways to streamline processes as best we can,” Moye said.

It has been estimated that inputting all the birth certificates going back to 1974 into the office’s computer system will take 89,600 minutes; approximately 230 days, he stated.

“We’ve been going with it for a year now, but we’ve picked up the pace lately,” Moye said.

Moye advised people seeking a new driver’s license to begin gathering the necessary documents at least a month before their license expires. Some birth certificate requests can take days to process. He also advised individuals seeking licenses to visit the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website; the site’s driver’s license section lists the documentation required for an application.