FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017
Contact: Kristen Schulze Muszynski
Notaries public now subject to new laws regarding petitions
AUGUSTA – The Department of the Secretary of State is notifying all notaries public that new laws affecting their commission are now effective, as of Nov. 1, 2017. These changes are outlined below:
- The circulator of a citizen’s initiative or people’s veto petition must sign the petition and verify by oath or affirmation before a notary public or other person authorized by law to administer oaths or affirmations that the circulator personally witnessed all of the signatures to the petition and that to the best of the circulator's knowledge and belief each signature is the signature of the person whose name it purports to be.
- After administering the oath to the circulator, the notary public or other authorized person must sign the notarial certificate on the petition while in the presence of the circulator. After the petition is signed and verified in this manner, the petition must be submitted to the registrar for certification.
- A notary public or other person authorized by law to administer oaths or affirmations is now prohibited from notarizing or certifying a petition under Title 21-A MRSA Section 902:
a. If employed or compensated by a petition organization for any purpose other than notarial acts;
b. If providing services or offering assistance to a ballot question committee established to influence the ballot measure for which the petitions are being circulated or employed by or receiving compensation from such a ballot question committee for any purpose other than notarial acts; or
c. If a treasurer, principal officer, primary fundraiser, or primary decision maker to a ballot question committee established to influence the ballot measure for which petitions are being circulated.
- The notary public must keep a log of petitions for which they administered the circulator’s oath, listing the title of the petition, the name of the circulator taking the oath, the date of the oath and the number of petition forms signed and verified by the circulator that day.
- The Secretary of State may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the commission of a notary public in the State if the notary public has allowed another person to use that notary public’s commission. Additionally, the Secretary of State may invalidate a petition if the Secretary of State is unable to verify the notarization of that petition. The Secretary of State will accept any reports of suspected fraudulent signature gathering.
These changes have been updated in the notary guidebook which is available for download at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/notary/notaryguide.pdf Notaries public who have questions regarding these law changes can contact the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions at (207) 624-7752 or by email at CEC.Notaries@Maine.gov.