LANSING, Mich. – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on Cyber Monday that Michiganders can now register to vote or update their voter registration online at Michigan.gov/VoterRegistration.
In another major announcement, Benson said that offering electronic (eNotary) and remote notarization services is now an option for the state’s more than 113,000 notaries public. Both programs represent steps forward for Michigan in using technology to provide modern and convenient services to residents.
Online voter registration begins
The secure, web-based online voter registration tool is available to citizens with a valid Michigan driver's license or state ID card. Michigan residents without these documents can learn more about how they can register to vote by visiting the site. All other methods of voter registration, including registration by mail, will remain available. Michigan also began implementing automatic voter registration in September as part of driver's license and state ID card transactions.
“This fast, convenient, cost-effective and secure option to register to vote will enable many more people to participate in democracy, and help Michigan’s clerks maintain complete, accurate and up-to-date voter rolls,” said Secretary Benson.
Residents who know they’re not registered to vote at their current address can access the voter registration tool directly by visiting Michigan.gov/VoterRegistration. Users will then be asked to verify their eligibility and provide identifying information including their driver’s license or state ID card number. After they verify their identity, users will have the opportunity to register to vote or update their voter registration if they are already registered.
If residents are not sure whether they are registered to vote, they can visit Michigan.gov/Vote to find out. If they are not registered, the site provides a link to the online voter registration tool.
Online voter registration is available on any web-connected device, including tablets and smart phones. Additional features will be added in 2020.
By implementing online voter registration, Michigan joins 37 other states that allow citizens to register to vote online. Legislation providing for online voter registration was enacted by the Michigan Legislature in 2018. Other states that have implemented online voter registration have seen several benefits:
• Cost savings: Online voter registrations replace paper applications, saving money on printing, mailing and processing time.
• Increased accuracy: Online voter registrations are entered electronically and matched to data the state already has on file for applicants; this eliminates typos and other transcription errors, as well as missing information on voter registration forms.
• Updated voter rolls: By allowing a convenient method of updating voter registration, online voter registration will help keep the voter rolls up to date by facilitating more frequent voter updates throughout the year.
• Convenience for voters: Online voter registration allows voter registration in real time from any web-connected device. Research in some states has found that young voters are particularly likely to take advantage of online voter registration.
eNotary services now available in Michigan
The Department of State commissions notaries public. They are officers appointed by the Secretary of State to attest to the authenticity of a person’s signature, administer oaths and witness acknowledgements. Notarization on a document certifies that the person named on it appeared before the notary, displayed valid identification and was in the presence of the notary at the time of execution.
In an electronic notarization, the document being notarized is digital and the notary uses electronic signatures (a digital representation of a person’s actual handwritten signature executed by that individual with the intent to sign). A remote notarization is conducted through audio and visual equipment; the signer is not in the physical presence of the notary public. The document being notarized is digital and the notary uses electronic signatures.
The Department of State has approved four eNotary vendor systems for use in Michigan, three of which also offer remote notarization services. These vendors have met state requirements such as demonstrating to department staff the notarial services platform and certain security features like tamper-evident documents and an audit trail:
• eMortgageLaw – Offers electronic notarization services
• Nexsys – Offers both electronic and remote notarization services
• Pavaso – Offers both electronic and remote notarization services
• NotaryCam – Offers both electronic and remote notarization services
The approvals are effective immediately and notaries can contract with the vendor of their choice, which will require a fee. The Department of State does not provide access, training or determine costs of these systems. Use of eNotary vendors is optional and no action is needed on the part of notaries in order to continue performing traditional pen and paper notarizations.
Michigan amended its notary law in 2018 to be in line with other states that have authorized electronic and remote notarizations. To do this, the Secretary of State was authorized with the assistance of the Department of Management and Budget to allow vendor systems to be used in Michigan to conduct electronic and remote notarizations.
More information is available by visiting the notary public site at Michigan.gov/SOS.