In November 2018, the Louisiana Secretary of State, Kyle Ardoin, sent a survey out to notaries public. The survey asked various demographic questions, such as our reasons for becoming a notary and our level of education. It also asked our feelings on three hot-button issues: our feelings on continuing education, our thoughts on the possibility of remote notary technology in Louisiana and our opinion about instituting a second-class notary to perform signature witness functions only.
At the beginning of the 2019 Legislative Session, Representative Ray Garofalo (R-District 103) pre-filed House Bill 514, otherwise known as the, "Remote Notary," bill. This bill wanted to allow notaries with statewide jurisdiction to perform the duties of their office remotely, over the internet.
Hold up a minute... my colleagues had all told me they were opposed to this bill. So, why was it being presented? And why were people at the state level saying notaries wanted this?
First and foremost, this bill was backed by the banker's lobby. That explains a lot.
But I still didn't think notaries really wanted this. I sent several emails to the Secretary's office, asking for a copy of the results of the survey. After not hearing anything from their office, I sent in a public records request. This time, I got a letter from Secretary Ardoin's office, showing me what I needed to know.
Of all the notaries that received the survey, 4,251 actually answered it. Only 23% of those notaries wanted to see remote notary technology allowed in Louisiana. A whopping 77% were against remote notary technology. Of course, their reasons were not detailed in the response I received, but I believe the large majority of the people against this bill understand the fraud potential that comes with this type of action. I also believe that many of us notaries are afraid of losing our little notary income to out-of-state remote notary corporations. There are a number of these companies currently operating in other states and they would just love a piece of our notary pie here in Louisiana, too. Their documents operate under common law, which doesn't conform with the civil law unique to our great state. This could be a disaster for our public record.
Our Secretary of State supported this remote notary bill. This is not a surprise to me, since Secretary Ardoin received a rather hefty donation to his campaign from the banker's association one day after the deadline to report campaign donations...
I now have to ask myself if our current Secretary of State supports us notaries, and if we would be doing ourselves a disservice by voting for him again this coming October...