AUGUSTA — To reduce in-person contact and promote physical distancing in response to COVID-19, Governor Janet Mills has signed an Executive Order allowing remote notarization, according to a news release.
The Order, which takes effect immediately, temporarily suspends the provisions of Maine law that require the physical presence of a notary or witness with certain exceptions, the release said.
The Order will allow Maine people, especially those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions, to conduct important business that requires sworn statements or affidavits with minimal in-person interaction, per the release.
“Permitting remote notarizations will allow Maine people to conduct important business while minimizing in-person interactions, thereby protecting their health,” said Governor Mills.
Under the Governor’s Executive Order, the provisions of Maine Law that require the physical presence of a notary or witness are temporarily suspended with the exceptions of solemnizing marriages; administering oaths to circulators of state or local direct initiative or referendum petitions and nomination petitions of candidates for electoral office; and absentee ballots in state and local elections.
The Order also establishes parameters to conduct remote notarization services in order to safeguard the integrity of transactions and the important personal interests served by them, according to the release.
For example, the notary and signatory must be located physically within the State of Maine and complete the act of notarization or witnessing via two-way audio and video communication to allow for direct interaction in real time.
Specific standards are built into the Order in an effort to continue access to services through remote means while still protecting the reliability of the acknowledgement.