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Notary Bulletin

A guide to state vote-by-mail ballot notarization requirements

As voters get ready for the November 2020 general election, Notaries are likely to get requests to notarize absentee or mail-in ballots. In the states below, notarization plays an important part in the vote-by-mail process. We've provided information below to help you perform ballot-related notarization requests correctly in these jurisdictions. For more information on Notary-related election developments in other states, look for our special 2020 election report coming soon in the Notary Bulletin

ALASKA:

Alaska absentee ballot envelope affidavits must be signed in the presence of a witness, who may be a Notary Public, any officer authorized to administer oaths, or a person age 18 or older (Alaska Statutes 15.20.081[d]). The voter must complete the ballot, place it in the gray secrecy sleeve provided, and then place the secrecy sleeve containing the ballot inside the return mailing envelope.

According to Alaska Administrative Code Title 6, Section 25.570[e], the witness must then sign their name on the witnessing affidavit on the return envelope. If an Alaska Notary serves as the witness, the Notary must administer an oath or affirmation to the voter and must affix the Notary seal and indicate the date on which the Notary's commission expires in the designated location on the return envelope. However, failure of the Notary to affix the seal or to provide the date on which the Notary's commission will expire will not cause the ballot to be rejected if the Notary's authority can be verified through official records on file with the lieutenant governor.

ALABAMA:

Alabama absentee ballots, once completed, must be sealed first in a provided plain envelope, and then the plain envelope must be placed inside an accompanying envelope with an affidavit printed on it. The voter must sign the affidavit on the envelope, and then have their signature witnessed by either a Notary Public (or other officer authorized to administer oaths) or two witnesses 18 years of age or older (Alabama Code 17-11-9).

MAINE:

Special “third-person” absentee ballots delivered by a person who is not an authorized official or a member of the voter’s immediate family must be witnessed by a Notary, clerk of a municipality or clerk of courts, or two witnesses (21-A MRSA 754-A.2). In this case, the ballot must be completed in the Notary’s presence, and there can be no communication between the voter and any other person regarding the voter's choices on the ballot. The voter must mark the ballot in a manner that makes it impossible for anyone present to know how the voter voted. The voter must seal the ballot in its return envelope and complete the affidavit portion on the envelop in front of the Notary. The Notary then must sign the witness portion of the affidavit. The Notary cannot act as a witness if the Notary is a candidate or the immediate family member of a candidate. The process to witness a special “third-person” absentee ballot is complex and full detailed instructions are found in the Maine Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide, pages 14 and 15. Because of the complexity of the process, state officials advise that a Notary who is unfamiliar with Maine’s election laws (21-A MRSA) should not undertake the execution of absentee ballots.

MISSISSIPPI:

Mississippi has the strictest requirements for voting absentee in the nation. First, the absentee ballot application must be witnessed and signed by an official such as a Notary Public. The voter must complete and sign an affidavit on the application and the Notary must execute a jurat for the voter’s signature (Mississippi Code § 23-15-627). Applications for voters with a temporary or permanent physical disability may be witnessed and signed by a person age 18 or older in place of notarization.

Once received, the ballot must then be completed in view of a qualified attesting witness such as a Notary Public, U.S. postmaster, U.S. postal supervisor or other officer authorized to administer oaths or take an acknowledgment. After the ballot is completed, the voter must fill out and sign the Elector’s Certificate on the back of the envelope. If a Notary acts as a witness, the Notary must then sign the Attesting Witness Certificate across the flap on the back of the envelope and include the Notary’s title and address. The Notary is not required to affix his or her seal (Mississippi Code § 23-15-631(b) and (c)). Instructions for marking the ballot in the Notary’s presence will be provided with the absentee ballot. Voters with a temporary or permanent physical disability may have their ballot and envelope witnessed and signed by a person age 18 or older in place of notarization.

Notaries may not charge fees for notarizing absentee ballot applications or envelopes (Mississippi Administrative Code, Title 1, Part. 5, R. 050.5.10[C]).

MISSOURI:

Missouri has two categories for voting by mail in the November 2020 election: 1) “Absentee ballots” for voters who qualify to vote absentee for several prescribed reasons (RSMo 115.277); and 2) Optional “mail-in ballots” for all other registered voters who want to vote by mail for the November 2020 election only (RSMo 115.302.1 and 21).

Absentee ballots require the affidavit on the ballot envelope to be signed and sworn before a Notary, except for voters who are incapacitated or confined due to a permanent disability (RSMo 115.284), illness or physical disability, a covered voter under the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act (RSMo 115.902), and only for elections occurring in 2020, voters who have contracted or are in an at-risk category of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 (RSMo 115.291.1).

All mail-in ballots require the statement on the ballot envelope to signed and sworn before a Notary (RSMo 115.302.11).

No fee may be charged for notarizing an absentee ballot envelope (RSMo 486.685.5). 

While a fee may be charged for notarizing a mail-in ballot envelope (due to a wording issue in the new law that authorized mail-in ballots), the Secretary of State has provided contact information for MO Notaries offering free services for mail-in ballots.

Because a lawsuit has been filed to remove the Notary requirement before the November 2020 election, this information may be subject to change.

OKLAHOMA:

A voter’s signature on the absentee voter affidavit must be notarized (26 O.S. §14-108) . However, during COVID-19, any absentee voter may attach a copy of a valid ID to the affidavit envelope as an alternative to notarization. Physically incapacitated voters and voters at high risk from COVID-19 may use 2 witnesses for their affidavit instead of notarization.

Oklahoma Notaries cannot charge a fee to notarize an absentee ballot affidavit. (26 O.S. §14-108 and 49 O.S. §5). Also, Notaries must keep a journal record of all absentee ballot affidavits notarized (26 O.S. §14-108.1). State law limits a Notary to notarize up to twenty (20) absentee ballot affidavits outside the Notary’s regular place of business during a single election. To notarize more, permission must be obtained from a county election board secretary.

SOUTH DAKOTA: 

Absentee ballot applications must be notarized with a jurat or include a copy of an acceptable photo ID (SDCL 12-19-2). However, this requirement has been waived for military voters and U.S. citizens residing outside the United States.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association. 

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30 Comments

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Carolyn Foust

24 Sep 2020

Will California have a notary requirement ?

National Notary Association

24 Sep 2020

Hello. California does not have a notarization requirement for mail-in ballots. However, CA Notaries are not allowed to charge a fee to notarize signatures on voting materials under state law (GC 8211[d]). We will have additional coverage of ballot notarization rules and updates for the November 2020 election in an expanded special Notary Bulletin report coming soon.

Lisa Bohen

28 Sep 2020

Will Michigan have a notary requirement?

National Notary Association

30 Sep 2020

Hello. For additional information, please watch for our expanded report on ballot notarizations that will be published soon in the Notary Bulletin.

scnotarylinda@gmail.com

28 Sep 2020

Is there any information on South Carolina requirements?

National Notary Association

02 Oct 2020

Hello. South Carolina does not have a ballot notarization requirement. Please watch for our special feature coming October 12 with additional information on ballot notarization issues.

R.T.

28 Sep 2020

Well, if CA notary’s are required to notarize ballots for free then I’m glad CA isn’t requiring notary’s to notarize ballots!

Brenda Beck

28 Sep 2020

Under an individual state’s requirements, if no language is shown that no fee is required, does this mean that In that state a fee is charged for the absentee ballot process?

Gabby Cabrera

03 Oct 2020

Hello, will Texas have a notary requirement? Thank you.

National Notary Association

05 Oct 2020

Hello. Not at this time. Please watch for our upcoming expanded special report on notarizing vote-by-mail ballots next week.

Madan Sharma

05 Oct 2020

Di I need to notorize Mail in voting in New York

National Notary Association

05 Oct 2020

Hello. New York does not have a ballot notarization requirement for vote-by-mail ballots.

Tia Rentz

05 Oct 2020

Does Florida need to notarize ballots?

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2020

Hello. Florida does not have a ballot notarization requirement, but prohibits Notaries from charging a fee for witnessing a vote-by-mail ballot in an election. Please watch for our full special report that will be published in a few days in the Notary Bulletin, which will include information for all states.

Mimi

06 Oct 2020

Does Florida have a place for witness signature?

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2020

Hello. Florida does not have a ballot notarization requirement, but prohibits Notaries from charging a fee for witnessing a vote-by-mail ballot in an election. Please watch for our full special report that will be published in a few days in the Notary Bulletin, which will include information for all states.

Marilyn Schriner

06 Oct 2020

Does Florida have notarized ballot requirements?

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2020

Hello. Florida does not have a ballot notarization requirement, but prohibits Notaries from charging a fee for witnessing a vote-by-mail ballot in an election. Please watch for our special report that will be published in a few days in the Notary Bulletin, which will include information for all states.

Amy Dean

07 Oct 2020

Does NC require notarization for mail in ballots

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2020

Hello. North Carolina has removed its notarization requirement for absentee ballots for the November 2020 election. Please watch for our full Notary Bulletin special report on ballot notarization in the next few days, which will include current information available for all U.S. states.

betty

07 Oct 2020

does Kansas require notarization for mail in ballots?

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2020

Hello. Only the states listed in the article above currently have a ballot notarization requirement for the November 2020 election. Please watch for our full Notary Bulletin special report on ballot notarization in the next few days, which will include current information available for all U.S. states.

Ms Caro

08 Oct 2020

I am in California and we are getting a lot of absentee ballots for different states. The wording on the envelope is for a jurat but does not follow all the CA law wording, and a stamp does not fit on the envelope itself. How can a CA notary notarize the envelopes so that the ballot isn't thrown out? For normal documentation, we would be able to do an attachment but with these we are afraid to do so.

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2020

Hello. If there is an issue completing a notarization on an absentee ballot from another state, ask the signer to contact their state's election agency, describe the situation, and request instructions.

Nancy Dorsey

13 Oct 2020

Do I need to have my mail in ballot notarized ? I am in Kansas.

National Notary Association

13 Oct 2020

Hello. Kansas does not have a ballot notarization requirement.

Harlee Mascarenas

13 Oct 2020

Does Wyoming have any requirements for ballot notorization?

National Notary Association

16 Oct 2020

Hello. No, however Wyoming voter registration application forms must be notarized unless the voter is in the military or an overseas citizen. Please see here for more information: https://sos.wyo.gov/Elections/State/RegisteringToVote.aspx

Connie Rogers

15 Oct 2020

Do I need to have my mail-in ballot notarized? I live in Illinois.

National Notary Association

16 Oct 2020

Hello. Illinois does not have a mail-in ballot notarization requirement. For more information, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/10/notarizing-mail-in-ballots-preparing-notaries-for-the-november-2020-election

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