The persistent quest for President Barack Obama's Hawaii birth certificate has died down since the state passed a law allowing it to ignore repetitive requests for the document.
Far fewer "birthers," who claim Obama is ineligible to be president, have asked state officials to provide the document since the law was enacted in May, according to the state.
The law has never even been put to use, said Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo. The number of people seeking proof that Obama was born outside of Hawaii and the United States diminished without the law being invoked.
Only about two or three e-mails now seek verification of Obama's birth each week, compared to between 10 and 20 weekly requests earlier this year.
"We have a handful of repeat requesters, but they know about the law," Okubo said. "They do everything they can to get around it."
Such tactics include having a relative or friend make the document request, she said, or asking for the vital records of Obama's relatives in search of clues that would show he was born outside the U.S.
Hawaii law has long barred the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest.
State Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino issued statements last year and in October 2008 saying that she's seen and verified Obama's original vital records. Obama celebrated his 49th birthday on Wednesday.
Most of the remaining open records requests trickling into the government bureaucracy these days usually come from the same few people, Okubo said.
Many of their inquiries pursue "birth index data," which includes a list of names of all people born in the state. Obama's name is included among those born in Honolulu in 1961, according to the state.
"No one here is requesting Obama's birth certificate, since it is obvious that he doesn't possess a valid one," said one of the requesters, Sharon Rondeau, editor of The Post & Email website that publishes efforts to disprove Obama's birth in the United States.
In response, the Department of Health has offered to provide hundreds of sheets of index data if requesters will pay for it. At 25 cents per page, the 1961 birth index data would cost $98.75. So far, no one has paid for the papers.
The state's offer to hand over index data may not last. The department is asking the state attorney general for a ruling on whether it should give out that information, Okubo said.
Although the new Hawaii law allowing duplicative requests to be ignored may have discouraged people from asking, the drop-off in inquiries may be a natural outcome nearly two years after Obama was elected, said Republican state Rep. Gene Ward, who believes Obama was born in Hawaii.
"These kind of birther issues aren't what they were fresh after the election," said Ward, who voted against this year's legislation on open government grounds. "There are so many things that were residuals of the election, and this is just one that's carried on longer than usual. Eventually, it will go away."
Obama vital records FAQ: http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/obama.html
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