Every good Notary Public keeps a journal of their professional activities and if they don’t then they should. Whilst it is not legally required for a Notary Public to keep a journal in every state, it is recommended by the NNA anyway. One of the very good reasons to use a journal as a Notary is that it creates a paper trial which helps to remand people who aim to commit ID fraud, especially with mortgage deeds.
When irresponsible notaries, notarize documents without the signer present; they are failing in their duty to the public and themselves as they are failing to adequately confirm that the signer is not committing identity fraud.
The times when the journal is most useful are in the states where fingerprinting in the journal is mandatory. The finger print of the signer can simply be checked against the national records for previous crimes and, hopefully, caught before committing another.
However, even in the states that don’t require a fingerprint, the notary’s journal confirms that they have done their job correctly and provides an extra signature to check against. The key to making sure that your journal is as useful as possible to law authorities is in keeping it confidential and locked away in a safe place.
Notarial journals are also very important for noting down the circumstances of any signing, especially the attitudes of those present and in determining whether or not any party is being exploited. They can provide vital evidence in court cases this way.
Obviously, keeping a journal is a very positive idea for a Notary Public as it ensures that there is a public record of any important, legal transfer. In the end, it depends on how much you care about the safety of the general public and your reputation as a good, morally upright notary.