Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Encouraging the use of electronic signatures and remote notarization,
witnessing, and visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic
Rescission of Executive Order 2020-41
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans and easily spread from person to person. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease.
On March 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, I issued Executive Order 2020-4. This order declared a state of emergency across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.401 et seq., and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, 1945 PA 302, as amended, MCL 10.31 et seq.
Since then, the virus spread across Michigan, bringing deaths in the thousands, confirmed cases in the tens of thousands, and deep disruption to this state’s economy, homes, and educational, civic, social, and religious institutions. On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread and severe health, economic, and social harms posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I issued Executive Order 2020-33. This order expanded on Executive Order 2020-4 and declared both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the State of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. And on April 30, 2020, finding that COVID-19 had created emergency and disaster conditions across the State of Michigan, I issued Executive Order 2020-67 to continue the emergency declaration under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, as well as Executive Order 2020-68 to issue new emergency and disaster declarations under the Emergency Management Act.
The Emergency Management Act vests the governor with broad powers and duties to “cop[e] with dangers to this state or the people of this state presented by a disaster or emergency,” which the governor may implement through “executive orders, proclamations,
and directives having the force and effect of law.” MCL 30.403(1)-(2). Similarly, the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 provides that, after declaring a state of emergency, “the governor may promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control.” MCL 10.31(1).
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the public health, and provide essential protections to vulnerable Michiganders, it is crucial that all Michiganders limit in-person contact to the fullest extent possible. This includes practicing social distancing and restricting in-person work and interaction to only that which is strictly necessary. To that end, it is reasonable and necessary to provide limited and temporary relief from certain rules and requirements so as to enable and encourage the use of electronic signatures, remote notarizations, remote witness attestations and acknowledgments, and remote visitations. This will help ensure that necessary transactions and interactions may continue to occur during this time of crisis without unduly compromising the health and safety of this state and its residents.
Executive Order 2020-41 provided that relief. This order extends and expands that relief, because it remains reasonable and necessary to do so. With this order, Executive Order 2020-41 is rescinded.
Acting under the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and Michigan law, I order the following:
If an individual is physically located outside of the geographic boundaries of this state, the notary must have no actual knowledge that the individual’s act of making the statement or signing the document is prohibited by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the individual is physically located.
Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the State of Michigan.