23
Aug

Castleton Democratic Town Committee caucus in September.

The Castleton Democratic Town Committee will hold a caucus, as required by Vermont law. The participants will choose members and officers of the town committee. It will be held September 19 at 6 PM. The location is the Castleton Community Center at 2108 Main Street (formerly known as The Old Homestead).

This is grass roots politics. Among those being elected will be delegates to the Rutland County Democratic Committee. That committee, in turn, elects delegates to the Vermont State Democratic Committee, which, in turn, sends delegates to the National Democratic Committee in 2020. (There are other delegates too; some of these are known as super delegates.)

So, if you want to learn where those names on the election ballots come from, come on by and see the very beginning of the process. Anyone is welcome to be a spectator, even if you're not a citizen or not 18 yet. But to participate, that is, vote, at the caucus, you must be a Castleton registered voter and not have participated this year in the caucus of another political party.

I hope to see you there.

21
Aug

Electronic Notary Seals

There has been a lot of buzz about electronic notarizations. A few states allow their notaries to perform notarizations while communicating with the signer via web cam; around 20 states allow electronic notarization provided the signer is present with the notary (in the traditional sense, such as being in the same room).

One question that comes up is seals. Obviously one can't stamp a file on a hard disk with a rubber stamp, nor can one crimp the hard disk with an embossing seal. What are the states doing about seals?

Some statistics

According to a summary by the Texas Secretary of State office, of 56 states and similar entities, 47 require seals on paper documents and 9 do not. Probably the states that don't require seals on paper documents won't require them on electronic documents either.

Nine states have enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA). This act doesn't require a notarial seal (which RULONA calls an official stamp), but does require that the notarial certificate contain

  • the notary's signature (not necessarily an image of a handwritten signature, could be typed)
  • the jurisdiction where the notarial act is performed
  • the title of office of the notarial officer
  • if applicable, the notary's commission expiration date.

Other states have similar provisions. This flexibility allows file formats that do not support images to be notarized by using only text.

Details matter

Of course, the devil is in the details; some states may modify the RULONA before adopting it. In other states, even though the law doesn't seem to require anything that looks like a traditional seal, as long as the necessary information is there, the executive branch rule-makers may require something that looks like a traditional seal.

Points of confusion

In internet forums, the phrase "electronic notary seal" is often used as a synonym for everything a notary needs to perform electronic notarizations. Clearly this is not the case; a significant number of states do not require the image of seal on enotarized documents.

Also, products are available in the marketplace that are described as electronic notary seals, but they have nothing to do with electronic notarization. These images are added to a document before it is printed. After the seal image is added, the document is printed and signed with pens by hand.

Security

It's worth pointing out that the image of a notary's seal doesn't provide much security. Once it gets recorded in the land records of a place that makes the original electronic form of the records available to the public, it will be easy to make a copy and put it anywhere. It's the public key cryptography that has the potential to make electronic notarizations secure.

19
Aug

Notary services

Like the majority of notaries public, I am not an attorney and can not give legal advice. If you are in any way unsure about the documents you want to have notarized, consult an attorney or other qualified professional.

Notarizations are in person

A few other states allow their notaries public to perform notarizations while chatting with the signer using an audio-video link, like a web-cam. This is not allowed in Vermont; the signer and the notary pubic must meet in person.

Perhaps you are wondering if a person in Vermont could communicate with a Virginia notary public via web-cam, and have a notarization done. I don't know. But keep in mind that the result of that approach would be an electronic document. If the person or organization who's asking that the document be notarized is expecting a paper document with hand-signed ink signatures, your electronic document might not be accepted.

What to have ready

Identification

Usually this is an unexpired government photo ID. ID documents are not required if you are well-acquainted with the notary, or if there is a witness available who is not related to either you or the notary, and who is well-acquainted with both you and the notary. Identification is required for acknowledgements but not for oaths or solemn affirmations.

It must be clear that the name that appears in the document and the name that appears on the ID are the same person. This can be an issue if you have changed your name, as often happens when people marry.

The document

Ordinarily, all the blanks in the document should be filled in, except your signature, the date (in case of a postponement), and the blanks intended for the notary. Ideally, the document will already have the language for the notary, with blanks for the notary to fill in, known as the notarial certificate. If not, I carry blank notarial certificates that can be attached. But it is up to you to decide which notarial act is needed.

The notarial act

Vermont notaries public are authorized to take acknowledgements and administer oaths or solemn affirmations, and to make certified copies of most documents. One type of document that Vermont notaries public will not make certified copies of are vital records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates.

Notaries public in some other states are allowed to witness signatures, but not in Vermont. (Of course, a Vermont notary public could witness a signature as a regular person, but not as a notary.)