This is a true story – not a very good story, but true all the same, and maybe it will make a point, although it probably won’t change anybody’s mind. I’m not even bothering to change the names. My late wife and I were a couple out of an old Norman Rockwell print. We lived in a tract house that had been built in 1950, and raised two children, and for a few years had a Basset Hound who liked to be chained in the front yard where he could see the little children, and they would stop and play with him. We burned charcoal in the grill every summer, and wood in the fireplace every winter. Nancy was active in the PTA and I was active in the synagogue. Both of our children grew up, graduated college, and each of them has two children. There’s more, but it’s all the same sort of thing. We voted in every election and maintained the lawn. As I said, it’s not much of a story.
Except that if it happened today, we couldn’t have voted in every election, because Nancy wouldn’t have been able to register to vote – at least not in the red states that are concerned about voter fraud. The other day, for no particular reason, I decided to order a copy of my birth certificate. It’s done over the Internet now, and you answer some questions, provide a credit card number, and it arrives. The questions were pretty much a matter of public record, not completely unreasonable – mostly.
Except that when Nancy’s father died, we went though his papers and found Nancy’s birth certificate. It recorded a birth, Bronx County New York, parents’ names, but the infant had been named Naomi Esther. All her life, Nancy had been Nancy Ellen, and suddenly she was confronted by the fact that her legal name, at least with the Department of Health of the State of New York, was something totally different. If Nancy had needed a birth certificate in order to get an identification card in order to register to vote, she would never have known what name to ask for. I presume that Nancy’s Mother, whom I never knew, wanted her daughter to have a modern name., something less ethnic or Biblical than the name of record, and so Naomi became Nancy and never knew herself as anybody else.
There’s a bit more, but not much. I am changing the names on this one though. I knew a writer who used a pen name, and somehow the two got confused on the public records, so that the IRS or some other agency insisted she was Ingrid when her real name was Emily, and of course there was no birth certificate listing for Ingrid. Also, one of the questions I was asked in order to fill out the request form was whether my parents were married at the time of my birth. It struck me that this is the sort of detail that parents might not care to discuss with their children. Scott Brown. running for the senate in Massachusetts, seems to have done well by claiming that his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, made a false statement by saying she had a Native American ancestor. Ms. Warren’s response is that this is what she was told by her Mother, which sounds completely credible.
There’s not much evidence of voter fraud in spite of efforts to find some in order to justify tossing minority and low income voters off the rolls. There’s lots of evidence of families touching up their ancestry just for the sound of it. When Florida is expunging over 100,000 people off the voting rolls, it’s fair to question the motivation.
Just a thought.