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A Notary steps up to help voters

Some Notaries get a commission because their boss asked them to, or to earn money. Jerry Fisher decided to get his in order to help voters in the November 2020 election.

Fisher, who works as a federal contractor in Kansas City, Missouri, saw that many voters were confused over his state’s absentee and mail-in ballot notarization requirements in the lead-up to the November election. He decided to apply for a commission and volunteer his Notary services to voters.

“There’s definitely been a higher demand for absentee and mail-in ballots this year,” he said. “Be they liberal or conservative, a lot of people are taking the time for absentee and mail-in voting.”

Fisher joined Curbside Notary Kansas City, a group of fellow local Notaries volunteering to make themselves available to assist voters. The group has set up notarization sessions at restaurants and coffee shops where voters can come in and have their ballot envelopes notarized as required by state law.

So far, Fisher says he’s notarized more than two dozen ballots. The two biggest challenges have been some confusion with the affidavit wording on the ballot envelopes and COVID-19 safety precautions. Fisher said some of the wording on the initial ballot envelopes he encountered did not include room for a Notary’s seal. Since then Missouri has issued new ones that do include a place to affix the seal.

To provide protection from coronavirus during notarizations, Fisher said he and his fellow volunteers set up plastic screens between themselves and signers and use personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer during sessions in order to keep participants safe.

Fisher says he plans to keep accepting notarization requests up to election day. But does he plan to keep his commission after November 3? Yes, he says, and he’s interested in finding other ways to promote and support voter education after the election.

“During one session, I had a whole family come in — Mom, Dad, grandma and kids — all with ballots for me to notarize,” Fisher said. “It’s nice to be able to help voters.”

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

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