From the CEO inbox: a correction and notes on Ohio notaries
In response to the March, 2014 Small Business Spotlight featuring Signature Closers mobile notary service:
My compliments on the Small Business Spotlight article "Notaries On Call" in the March issue. Notaries tend to fly
under the radar in the public perception; the story was helpful in underscoring their essential role in the in the mortgage lending process, and Mr. Fleming's efforts to provide his clients those with exemplary credentials.
However, a correction is in order.
Ohio notaries public are not "licensed" by the state, as stated in the story. Licenses are issued by a state-appointed board to physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, accountants, architects, attorneys, and other professionals who have satisfactorily met established educational standards, passed a board-approved examination, and completed ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their licensure.
Notaries public, rather, are "commissioned" as sworn officers of the state. They have statewide jurisdiction, and are under the aegis of the Secretary of State to protect the public by deterring fraud.
Unlike the rigorous path to earning a professional license, the only statutory requirements to become an Ohio notary are to be eighteen years of age and a permanent resident of the state, or a licensed attorney.
Importantly, there are no statewide requirements for examinations, background checks, or training in notarial procedures for one to receive a notary commission. Each Ohio county has its own criteria for notary applicants, which may include all, part, or none of the above. This lack of uniformity results in the commissioning of poorly-trained, incompetent, and even rogue notaries, who are thrust upon a trusting public by the thousands annually.
The majority of Ohio's 225,000 notaries do their best to uphold the centuries-old traditions of trust and integrity inherent to this honored office. But the reality is that our citizens and their important documents are at risk from an arcane commissioning system that continues to produce notaries who are ill-equipped to meet the 21st Century challenges of defending the public trust.
The current state system is in dire need of reform; we support statewide examinations, stronger background checks, and mandatory training for all notary applicants. Ohio residents deserve nothing less for this essential function.
Roger Rill, President
Ohio Society of Notaries, Columbus