Notary public administrators (NPA) from across the country met recently in Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 10th annual National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) NPA summer conference.
One of the conference highlights was a panel discussion on the “State of the Notary Public Office and the Future of Notarization in America,” with Pedro Cortes, secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and current president of the NASS; Al Jaeger, secretary of state of North Dakota; and Elaine Marshall, secretary of state of North Carolina. Alicia Steward, NPA president served as moderator.
The panel addressed the status of the notary public office, its importance, and areas of improvement in notary law that will be considered by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) on Oct. 3-5, in Chicago.
In addition to discussing the significance of revising the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (ULONA), the panel also talked about the impact of the growing immigrant population on the notary office, the significance of authentication in the international marketplace, electronic notarization, and the increasingly important role the notary plays in enhancing the notarial act, preventing fraud and forgery and protecting the public interest.
Cortes said there is a need to prevent the unauthorized practice of law within the notary industry. There is also a heightened interest in homeland security in which the value of the notary public will increase.
Patricia Fry, chairperson of the ULONA drafting committee, asked the attending notary public administrators what a uniform law on notarial acts could do for them. The responses included:
- Responsibilities of notaries
- Responsibilities of those relying on notarizations
- Electronic records
- Remedies for improper acts
NPAs also noted that uneducated and naive notaries, a careless attitude towards the position of notaries public, industries (employers) that allow and sanction notaries to do things that are wrong and not using a journal or register cause major problems within the notary industry.
One NPA said in addition to electronic notarization, commissioning procedures and notary education should be addressed by the NCCUSL panel discussion in Oct. However, Fry said even if a statue is written addressing these concerns, it will not “prevent people from being crooks and people pretending to be notaries public.”
In other news, the executive board of NASS adopted a resolution opposing Senate Bill 2083, the Interstate Recognition of Notarization Act, “a bill requiring any federal or state court to recognize any notarization made by a notary commissioned in one state other than the state where the court is located, when a notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce.”
NASS does not want piecemeal legislation because they are in favor of revising ULONA.
The first draft of the uniform law will be read at the 2009 annual NCCUSL conference, followed by a second reading and vote in 2010. After an endorsement by the American Bar Association, the uniform law will then be presented to state legislatures for approval.