With the 2012 election cycle moving into high gear, Notaries will be called upon more and more to notarize nomination petitions, filing papers, affidavits and a variety of other election-related documents. These transactions are often challenged, making adherence to state laws and ethics essential to upholding integrity of notarizations in the democratic process.
We are already seeing notarizations challenged in this year’s cycle. In Pennsylvania, a county commissioner’s nominating petitions were nearly invalidated because the documents were notarized by an employee in the commissioner’s office. While the courts allowed the petitions to remain valid, the notarizations were challenged because the Notary had a “beneficial interest” in the transaction — an issue that is a serious ethical breach, and even illegal in some states.
And in Illinois, the State Board of Elections declared a county clerk ineligible to run as a candidate in the state’s 11th Congressional District race due to faulty notarizations. Two of his petition circulators apparently did not personally appear before the Notary who notarized their affidavits attesting to the authenticity of the signatures they collected.
The NNA encourages all Notaries to adhere to their state laws and review its Recommended Notary Practices to avoid challenges to notarizations, liability issues and even potential fines and jail time.