August 12, 2022

Letter of the day | Why is there no standard date format? | Letters


I was born on February 6, 1940, and it was thus registered on my birth certificate. At first, it was written quite logically as 6-2-40: day, month, and year, respectively. After a while, we – the imitators that we are – started writing month, day, year, respectively, even as we continued to use the other format. On my voter card issued in 2015, my birthday was recorded as “2-6-1940”, probably February 6, 1940. On my driver’s license issued in 2018, the date of birth was recorded as “1940-02 -06”; presumably February 6, 1940 as well. Both dates were recorded based on the recording on my birth certificate. However, the same date cannot be written in two different formats in the same country without ultimately creating confusion or worse.

I applied for renewal of driver’s license and voter’s card on February 15, 2022. My date of birth on the expired voter’s identity card was written “06/02/1940” as shown below -above. This was filed at the electoral office during the request. Yet when I returned to get my new ID, my date of birth was listed as “June 2, 1940” – an obvious misinterpretation of the very date recorded by them seven years ago!

Now I am being told to submit my birth certificate – at my expense – in order to have their error corrected. Can the Jamaica Electoral Office tell us if this is an isolated case or if there are others? The country must be aware of the total confusion that could await it if there is no consistent method of recording dates, but especially when it comes to official documents. My date of birth on the new driver’s license like the old one was “1940-02-06”. They are two government entities. Why are there disparities, confusion, inconvenience and additional costs for the public?


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