Maine is the 41st State to Pass RON Legislation
On April 21, 2022, after two years of legislative studies and supportive efforts by two Secretaries of State, Shenna Bellows, current secretary of state, and Matthew Dunlap, predecessor, Maine has authorized both electronic and remote online notarization (RON) by means of the Uniform Law Commission’s Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA). In doing so, Maine became the 41st state to authorize use of communication technology for signers to appear before a notary.
“As Secretary of State, one of my main goals is technology modernization, so we’re really excited that Maine is taking this step forward with remote, online notarization,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said. “For Maine’s business community, our residents, and our Notaries, this will be a great convenience and consumer protection tool. We look forward to continuing our work with the experts in this field as we prepare for implementation.”
The remaining jurisdictions are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Washington, DC. Of these, all but Mississippi and South Carolina have some form of remote online legislation pending.
The Maine RULONA enactment is particularly significant for three reasons. First, the Secretary of state’s stakeholder committee intentionally changed the authorization for use of communication technology from just notaries public to all notarial officers, including Maine licensed attorneys. In doing so, Maine joins New Jersey as the only two RULONA enacting states to do this make this change. (Other states that give attorneys authorization to perform RON, include Missouri and Ohio, both of which enacted the ALTA/MBA/NNA legislative model.)
Second, the stakeholder committee specifically modified RULONA , with respect to the Protest Act, so as to preserve notarial powers that serve the admiralty bar and the notary’s historic role as an officer in matters of international commerce. By doing this, Maine joins Hawaii in preserving this unique notarial tradition in the RON context.
Finally, by including the most recent Uniform Law Commission amendments that authorizes Remote Ink-Signed Notarization (RIN), Maine joins Illinois and New York in extending the maximum capability for notaries to serve the strategic legal needs of all legal practitioners, including the estate planning and probate bar.
“As an active participant in the Secretary of State Bellow’s stakeholder committee for the last two years, as well as being an American Bar Association appointed advisor to the RULONA committee and a Maine resident, I am especially excited by the way Maine customized RULONA,” Tim Reiniger, digital legal counsel for eNotaryLog LLC, said. “My only regret is that the law won’t go into effect until July 2023. I can’t wait to have the opportunity, as a licensed Maine attorney, to help promote the strategic advantages of RON throughout the Maine bar and the historic maritime industry.”