e-Notarizations, much hype, few changes
For most people getting something notarized is a pain in the tail feathers. It’s so much easier to buy a television (which costs a lot more) online, pay with a credit card; and know that it will be delivered promptly. There definitely are some “fantasy notary services” that will provide illegal services – exactly the way you would like. Namely, strictly via the internet, without any need for personal appearance. Your document to be notarized is probably important to you. If the notary did their “job” illegally there is a good chance the notarization can be voided, and if the document requires notarization – the entire document might have no legal status whatsoever!
To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge; there is no jurisdiction in the United States that does not require “face to face”, “arms length” proximity between the notary and the affiant (the person whose signature is to be notarized). Of course some legal processes can be properly done without personal appearance. One example is someone giving a deposition via telephone. They are not in the courtroom, but their testimony is admissible to the court. However, and it’s a major point – a Notary Public is physically with the affiant to both check their ID and to “put them under oath”, exactly the same process done by the Bailiff in a courtroom.
A photocopy of a notarization is not a notarization, original signatures are required. While a copy can have “some use” it is the original that distinguishes itself as being notarized. In a similar manner, the face to face requirement cannot be met with electronics. The notary oath cannot be given via telephone, video conference, FAX, or email. Those nifty video phone calls cannot be used by notaries to administer the oath. There is always the possibility of electronic alteration between the end points. As the physical propinquity requirement remains; what then is accomplished by using e-Notarizations?
Let me answer that with an analogy. If you needed 20 copies of a document you would either use a copier or print it 20 times. Nobody would type 20 identical documents. E-notarization is used to populate and propagate the components of the notary section to each document that requires a notarization. Some states might even allow the notary signature to be affixed electronically. But, and this is the key point, the essentials that notaries perform remain “traditional”. They still must examine the actual physical ID of the affiant. They still must administer the oath to the applicant in person, and, where the affiant signs electronically – witness that they do so with free will and understanding of the content.
It might be “the wave of the future” but for me it introduces a lot of error and failure prone electronic procedures in the name of efficiency. The often computer generated notarizations rarely allow the notary to redact inappropriate verbiage that is improper in their state. It’s highly unlikely that the originator of the electronic procedure knows, and keeps current with the oft changing notary formats and regulations. While E-notarizations can “clean up” a bit the work of low skilled notaries; they also thwart the ability of the highly skilled ones to “fix the problem” that is electronically “force fed” into the document. http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com generally declines to take part in E-notarization projects; there are just too many ways for it to go wrong.>