Use Caution when Notarizing for Elections and Political CandidatesBrenda Stone
Normally, I like to share notary tips and fun strategies for you to use in your business. But, on occasion, I feel obligated to share a warning, especially for those who are just getting started. If you are new and haven’t taken a training course, please do that before you begin seeking work–especially before handling election forms. If you think that’s unnecessary and old fashioned, please continue reading!
Candidate and election forms are treacherous.
New notaries without training should consider referring requests to perform notarial acts for political candidates and relating to election affidavits to more experienced notaries. Please don’t do it before taking a basic notary course and purchasing errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. Notarial errors related to elections will almost certainly cause the notary to be suspended, charged with criminal penalties, or to have her commission revoked. Notaries are also sued frequently for performing sloppily on election-related documents.
So, why does it go like this?
In elections, neither the candidate nor the notary get a re-do.
The future is tainted over a notarial error, and people don’t let that go easily. For the notary, at minimum, it’s a humiliating experience and the media handles it quite publicly.
Below are a few notary issues that have happened over the last few years. These kind of errors just happen to notaries who haven’t been trained. They can ask questions on social media, but most of the answers are from other notaries without training. The problem is getting bigger and bigger. An investment into training will improve your confidence level and lower the risk you take every time you notarize without having been taught how to handle your notarial duties.
Just like with the cases below, criminal charges, penalties, suspension, and commission revocation happen often. The difference is how publicly the error is discussed.
Don’t let these kinds of things happen to you.
All the notaries in the stories below could have avoided the errors they made if they had been trained. The Notary.net course I’ve taken has everything needed packed into video lessons that would have ensured that the notaries in the examples would have been prepared to do things correctly and E&O would have like provided legal support.
Notary Trouble in a Dallas Suburb
After a notary in Texas botched a notarization relating to an agreement with a high political figure, she was suspended. To make matters worse, she was talked about unceasingly in the Dallas News and headlined in national news reports for weeks. In some, she was mentioned by name and the city in which she worked and/or lived.
This notary didn’t use a proper certificate to memorialize her notarial act. She just stamped a document after it was signed. It’s unclear at this time if her commission was revoked permanently or if it has been reinstated. Read the story here.
Notary Accused of Giving Advice to Candidate
Luis Granados said he was aware that he left the two boxes on the candidate application form blank, but he claims that he asked a township employee (who was also a notary) about whether he needed to fill them in or not and claimed she said it was fine as it was, then accepted the application despite it being incomplete.
There are two lessons here. (1) Best practices dictate that notaries should not notarize a document if there are blanks in it, plus (2) do not give an opinion on whether a document is acceptable or if the signer is doing it right. Read the story here.
Florida Candidate Not on Ballot Due to Notary Error
The notary didn’t apply his or her seal, so the candidate can’t run. This type of error has been made by many notaries, however, when a notary completes a notarial act relating to candidates and/or elections, it is guaranteed to become a huge media sensation.
Read more here.
New York Notary’s Penalties Turn Criminal
A notary in New York was charged with making a false sworn statement, a class E felony.
Her first error reported was that she gave advice on a legal matter (answering her boss’s question about whether a father could sign for his son) and she reportedly didn’t witness signatures that she notarized on a petition. In New York ,candidates must secure a certain number of signatures to qualify for a party’s primary; the notary worked for a candidate. According to police, four of the people whose signatures appeared on the candidate’s petition told police the notary had not witnessed their signatures, although she notarized them. The entire story is here.
Protect your commission.
New notaries are understandably excited about their commissions and the possibility of earning with it. They often avoid looking at the negative.
The negative can happen! Don’t avoid it. Face it head on.
- Add E&O insurance to your notary arsenal, it’s too cheap not to have. Your policy will be there to help in defending you if you are sued for an error.
- Training courses at Notary.net are priced reasonably. Learn the skills you need to protect yourself and those for whom you notarize.
Let us know if you have comments or questions about this topic!