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The Senate gave unanimous approval to legislation Monday to allow notary publics to certify electronic documents. Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 915 creating a Remote Online Notarization (RON) process in Oklahoma allowing notaries to perform their services online over secure audio video calls rather than in person.
“Many professions depend on notaries but having to physically take documents to them to notarize slows down business and is inconvenient. By allowing notaries to certify electronic documents, deals can be wrapped up quicker and any time, day or night,” Rosino said. “We live in a digital age, and this is a change that our business community needs.”
Under SB 915, a notary must verify that the document is in a tamper-evident format and contains no signature-related errors. The notary must also personally print the paper and ensure no changes are made other than indicating the document is certified by them. The certified document may then be submitted to state and county officials if a certified document is required. The measure does not apply to a plat, plan, map, or survey of real property in certain circumstances.
The Secretary of State would create rules governing electronic document certification to address what tools could be used to validate documents, storage of electronic documents, creating forms for remote online notarizations, and other matters deemed necessary by the Secretary. The Secretary could use national entities for guidance.
Notaries would pay a $25 fee and register with the Secretary to receive authorization to conduct remote notarization. Applicants would submit a form containing information as required by the measure. The Secretary could deny submitted notarizations if the technology is deemed insufficient, if the notary violated any rules created under SB 915 or if the notary violated current laws and rules governing professional behavior. Renewing one’s notary public commission would also constitute a renewal to notarize electronic documents.
SB 915 would require a notary public to maintain a journal in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format complying with standards set by the Secretary in which the notary public chronicles all remote online notarial acts performed.
SB 915 is a request bill from the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS (OAR) and is supported by Secretary of State Michael Rogers. OAR also worked in conjunction with the Oklahoma Land Title Association on the bill. The measure will next be heard in the House.