Who Commissions the notary public?
In California, the Secretary of State commissions the notary for a term of 4 years after the applicant passes a written multiple-choice examination concerning notary law. Additionally, the notary must be able to pass a criminal background check. Since the office of the notary plays such a vital role in ensuring that the general public has some minimum protections against fraud, it is important that the notary demonstrate to the state a background of legal integrity that is consistent with the values of the office itself. A commissioned notary usually holds office for a term of four years after which the notary must re-take the exam if he or she wishes to be re-commissioned as a Notary.
Currently, the examination is administered by proctors from the Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS), which is a company contracted with the Secretary of State to administer notary exams. Since the CPS proctors administer the exam, they obviously are precluded from being able to take the examination themselves, and consequently are also not permitted to seek appointment as a notary public.