Las Vegas, NV – Bipartisan legislation is rare in Washington, but this year, Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives came together to pass the SECURE Notarization Act — a bill that would permit digital real estate closings using remote online notarization (RON) nationwide.

A commonsense piece of legislation, the act would allow all Americans the opportunity to complete transactions remotely, with peace of mind that their data and transactions are protected by minimum federal standards. It is now up to the Senate to pass the bill. If the Senate does not act before the end of its session, millions of Americans will remain unable to access this important innovation.

For many states, RON has been used for nearly a decade. In 2013, Virginia became the first state to allow remote online notarization. In recent years, more state legislatures have enacted RON bills. Thanks to the pandemic-induced embrace of digitization, remote notarization is now allowed in 43 states, up from 22 at the outset of the pandemic, allowing homebuyers and homeowners to close on their homes and refinance mortgages entirely remotely.

But many Americans are still left behind, especially homebuyers with mobility challenges and military members overseas. If enacted, the act would allow every notary public across the United States to securely notarize documents remotely.

The act would allow all Americans to use remote online notarization while still allowing individual states the autonomy to implement a system that works best for them. The bill’s national framework gives state legislatures flexibility and freedom, but it ensures that all states adhere to specific minimum requirements.

Adopting the same minimum consumer and fraud protections as many state laws, the act requires third-party, multifactor authentication of the signer, which includes a credential analysis. RON platforms use tamper-evident technology to prevent the unauthorized modification of notarized documents and provide an audit trail of each action by the notary and signer.

Some may wonder why there is still a need for remote online notarization now that many of us have stopped implementing social distancing. To be clear, RON does not just improve accessibility for those needing social distancing. RON improves access to notary services, and thus financial services, in underserved and underbanked communities where notary services may not be readily available.

RON also provides scheduling flexibilities, so consumers are not adversely affected by having to take time off from work or traveling long distances to sign documents. And importantly, RON allows the active-duty military to complete important financial transactions.

In this variable housing market, the men and women protecting our freedom should be able to achieve the dream of homeownership with the same ease and access as civilians. Those stationed abroad or on military bases often cannot visit a notary in person, but RON offers a solution.

In a climate increasingly fractured by partisan politics, we can all find common ground in wanting to support our military members and those living in underserved and underbanked communities. By passing the SECURE Notarization Act on the national level, Congress will be making the purchase of a home more accessible and secure.

The act already has strong support, having passed with 128 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House. Now, the Senate needs to come together and codify remote online notarization and make it accessible to those who need it most. It is time to modernize the homebuying process and finally make the SECURE Notarization Act the law of the land.

  • Story originally appeared on Las Vegas Sun