Notary public system to utilize live audio-video communications

Staff report

COLUMBUS — State Senators Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) recently introduced the “Notary Public Modernization Act” which will take a number of steps to update and enhance the notary public system in Ohio. For the first time, Ohioans will be able to get their documents notarized by connecting with a commissioned Ohio notary online, rather than face-to-face, utilizing live audio-video communications technology.

In addition to providing Ohioans with a new method for getting their documents notarized, the bill also provides for certain consumer protections to ensure the authenticity of electronic signatures and online notarial acts. Online notarization is a growing trend across the country and this legislation paves the way for Ohio to be at the forefront of this historic advancement.

“At one point or another, everyone needs to get a document notarized, and meeting a notary face-to-face can be a burdensome part of the notarial process,” said Wilson. “I am proud to offer Ohioans an option that embraces technological advancements and places the needs of consumers first.”

Other provisions of the bill would streamline and modernize Ohio’s antiquated system for commissioning notaries public by consolidating the process under the sole authority of the Secretary of State’s office. Ohio’s current commissioning process lacks consistency and efficiency due to a complex web of state and local involvement that varies county by county, resulting in 88 different processes by which a person can become a notary public.

“Notaries perform important services, and the materials they are trusted with contain vital information,” said Huffman. “It is imperative that Ohioans are able to have the utmost confidence in the individuals notarizing their documents. This legislation provides that assurance.”

Under the bill, all applications and fees would now be sent directly to the Secretary of State’s office for processing. Applicants would also be required to submit a BCI background check, participate in an approved training course and pass an assessment.

Staff report