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2021 Notary of the Year John Bayne

Pioneer Florida Remote Online Notary John Bayne has dedicated his adult life to service, and his willingness to fight the good fight has only increased since the pandemic changed our lives.

In 2014, John Bayne retired after thirty years on the police force, and his wife retired at the same time from her lifelong career in the legal field; together they opened Florida Document Specialists, a company committed to assisting people representing themselves in legal situations. While they offer a variety of services, John and his wife are proud their primary focus is assisting family adoption cases.

John was one of the first Notaries in his state to seek and earn Remote Online Notarization certification after Florida enacted permanent RON laws. The year 2020 saw an exponential growth in his workload, and John charged forward to meet the needs of his customers — not only by providing RON services, but by going to bat for a signer when local officials refused to accept an urgently needed document notarized with RON. Since then, John has balanced meeting the growing need for RON services with advocating for RON and educating state and local agencies — even RON technology providers! — to help them better understand how it works in Florida, and providing discounted services for military and first responders, along with their families.

For going above and beyond what's expected to support signers, military personnel and first responders in need of RON services and for his exceptional efforts to educate local officials as well as private industry about Remote Online Notarization, Bayne has been selected as the 2021 Notary of the Year. The National Notary Association annually awards this honor to a Notary who demonstrates exceptional professionalism and dedication to community service that sets an example for other Notaries to follow.

A pioneer and champion for Remote Online Notarization

January 1, 2020, saw remote online notarization take effect in Florida, and John was one of a the first Notaries in the state to qualify for performing RONs. Just two months later, there was an immediate and widespread surge in need for remote Notary services as COVID-19 changed the nation's landscape. Customers were struggling to find ways to safely meet with Notaries without risking catching the coronavirus, but the need for notarizations didn't decrease. In fact, it increased dramatically.

Because John was able to offer signers a safe alternative for notarization without health risks, he and his company quickly found themselves very, very busy. John's office completed over 1,000 remote online notarizations in 2020. The need for RON services was so great, Bayne's daughter-in-law become a Remote Online Notary to assist Bayne, and today she works with him providing RON services to customers in their area.

However, offering RON has not been without challenges. While most of John's customers quickly saw the benefits of RON, certain local agencies and companies were reluctant to give credence to a remote signature notarization — even when authorized by permanent state law.

John faced a particularly tough situation last year. A local agency rejected a customer's urgently needed adoption document because of the remote notarization John had performed for the signer. Knowing that document rejection would cause serious problems for his customer, John contacted state officials and asked for their help. After John explained the situation, officials intervened with the reluctant agency and explained that RON is an authorized, permanent part of state law. The agency was persuaded to accept the notarized document. John felt he couldn't stand by and let his customer get stuck in legal limbo because of a misunderstanding over a notarization. If an agency won't accept a valid RON, John says, "We pick up the phone and we start calling people."

Taking action is part of John's personality

The ability to notarize estate planning documents via remote online notarization was not included in the original law adopted on January 1, 2020; this particular form of notarization was not available for estate planning until July 1, 2020.

One of John's greatest regrets was that he had to say no to so many families desperate for help with estate planning RONs before they were made available in Florida. Then when the option became available, John realized that some Notary RON software programs were not compliant with the new Florida estate planning RON provisions.

Not willing to turn away those in need any longer than required, John took the initiative to contact Secured Signing of New Zealand and explained the problem. They were eager to listen, to learn, and to make whatever changes were needed. He worked directly with the company to help them update their platform to be Florida complaint, and within 30 days John and other RON Notaries had what they needed to remotely notarize estate planning documents, thanks to John speaking up.

Service through educating others

In 2020 remote online notarization became a necessity, but in a suddenly changing world, many people were left not knowing what to do or how to do it. John never intended to be an RON educator, but because he is inspired to serve, he stepped up when needed.

In Broward County, Florida, the issuance of all marriage licenses requires a notarization. While the IT Department for Broward County obtained and installed the necessary software, and county clerks were authorized to accept RON acts, the clerks didn't know how to use the provided software and in essence all marriages in Broward County came to a stop. In desperation, the Broward County IT director reached out to John, who quickly found himself holding an impromptu online educational seminar on software use. Thanks to John's efforts, marriages in Broward County using RON resumed.

In addition to the rapid onslaught of RON requests John and his company took on in the early months of 2020, as one of the first and few RON certified Notaries in Florida, John's phone rang consistently. There were many questions from attorneys and even other Notaries who weren't clear on the difference between a technology provider and a RON certification, so between performing his job John continued to provide RON information to others well beyond the general scope of his career.

Honoring those who serve our country and helping others

John's determination and willingness to help others goes back years, even before he became a Notary. He previously served in the National Guard as a Radioteletype Communications Specialist and as an officer with the Ormond Beach Police Force for three decades.

Having served in both the military and law enforcement, John goes out of his way to provide Notary aid to the families of first responders and persons serving their country overseas. John's company offers discounted remote online notarization services for active duty military personnel and their spouses, as well as active first responders including dispatchers, police officers, paramedics, and firefighters. He's especially proud of the RON services he offers to military personnel serving outside the country who need to complete important notarizations for their families here in the United States and often find it difficult or impossible to find traditional in-person notarization services that can accommodate their needs.

John also contributes to Tunnels to Towers, a charity that builds homes for military veterans who were injured during their service as well as pay off mortgages for the families of police officers and first responders who have died in the line of duty. As a licensed pilot, he has also served as a Senior Incident Commander for the Florida Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, supervising search and rescue operations.

When asked what motivates him, John explained he had spent thirty years as a police officer and he regrettably has few memories of people being thankful or expressing thanks for the work he did as a patrol sergeant — but many customers have thanked him for the Notary services he provides.

"I have been thanked and appreciated more as an online Notary than I ever was as a police officer," he said. "You can just really see when people are at their wits end and people just have to get something done, you can see when they thank you that it was really sincere."

While he said being selected as the 2021 Notary of the Year was "very unexpected and surprising," when one looks at his impressive career as a Notary, it is clear to see why John Bayne shines.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, 2021 Notary of the Year John Bayne and 2020 Notary of the Year Alan Warren will be honored in person at NNA 2022.


Add your comment

Joyce Martel

24 May 2021

Congrats and thanks for all your services. My son is an officer and I understand about the "THANKS" Fortunately there are those that care and pray for our service folks. I do!!!

Tony Hampton

24 May 2021

How find Ron business

Steven McDonald

24 May 2021

As a retired AF member and former FL CO/CPO, I want thank you for your service and leadership to our community and globally. Your care for people and serving to the public is very honorable. You are a great inspiration and a mentor to follow in the Public Notary field, I hope to cross paths with you some day, and would love to learn more about your training sessions. At this time, I just got certified as a RON using Notarize, and just started taking calls, your testimony has inspired me to continue to press toward the mark! God bless you and your family.

Sandra R Jefferson

25 May 2021

Congratulations to John as the 2021 Notary of the Year. In reading your story the NNA chose the right person and his value is impeccable. It will be a pleasure to meet John when we are able to have the conference. Continue your outstanding work and you are truly a people person. Take care, be safe Sandy J.

Denise Lee

26 May 2021

Congratulations and thank you for your self-less service! I am motivated by your service here in Texas!

Tracey Mastropoalo

02 Jun 2021

Congratulations John! This recognition couldn't go to anyone better! I had the good fortune of meeting John during Covid as our Company needs required RONs. John is a great businessman; he is kind, honest, caring, and will do whatever it takes to get the job done! Even though I may be in CA, John is just an upload, click or call away! :) Keep up the outstanding work John! All the best always! ~Tracey M.

John Bayne

03 Jun 2021

Thank you all so much for the kind words. ~ John

04 Jun 2021

Congratulations John! Looking forward to meeting you in NNA 2022.

Lorraine Schechter

23 Jun 2021

Congratulations on becoming the NNA 2021 Notary of the Year! An honor well-deserved! Thank you for all that you do for others.

Stephanie S

13 Aug 2021

Great Job with being innovative during a critical time!

Patricia H. Dixon

23 Aug 2021

A hearty congratulation👋👋👋!!


09 May 2022

Congrats! I've been thinking of becoming a Notary. I'm sending in my application this week! Thanks for the inspiration!

Mark Sias

24 Jul 2022

It's really Awesome to see another Florida Legal Document Preparation business in the spotlight. I know a lot of notaries shy away from this business model for lack of understanding of the Florida Pro Se Laws. It has been a great service to the community. Congratulations.

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