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Voting & Elections Toolkits

Voter Registration in Iowa

Eligibility

  • Age: At least 17 and turning 18 on or before Election Day
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals: Convicted felons cannot vote unless voting rights have been restored. More information at https://governor.iowa.gov/services/voting-rights-restoration
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Residence: Voters can only declare one residence for voting purposes. There is no restriction on how long someone has to reside somewhere for voting purposes.
  • College students must choose to either register and vote at a home address or at a college address. 
  • Check to see if you are already registered at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/regtovote/search.aspx​

More information: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/voterregistration.html

Deadline

Online registration

To use the online voter registration system you must have a current and valid Iowa driver’s license or non-operator identification card issued by the Iowa Department of Transportaion.

Online registration form: https://mymvd.iowadot.gov/VoterRegistration

Mail-in registration

Printable forms: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/voteapp.pdf. Printed voter registration form should be mailed or returned to local county auditors office

 

Refer to the box below for information about ID requirements.

 

Choosing a political party   

You may choose a political party affiliation when you register. You are required to be registered with a political party to participate in its caucus or primary. Affiliation can be changed through updating registration information at local auditor's office and on the day these events are held.              

Updating registration      

To update registration after a move, name change, or to change political party affiliation, use either the print or online voter registration form.

For more information: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/updatereg.html

Cancelling registration

The county auditor office maintains local voter rolls. To remove someone from a voter roll, contact the your county auditor.

County Auditor/Commisioner of Elections can be located at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html

ID Requirements for Iowa Voters

ID Requirements for Registration

Online Registration

For online voter registration, an Iowa driver's license or non-operator's ID is required.

Mail-in Registration

An ID is not required for mail-in registration, but you are asked to provide one of the following ID numbers:

  • Iowa Driver’s license number or Iowa non-operator's ID, OR
  • Last four digits of Social Security number, OR
  • If you provide no ID number you will be required to provide a photo ID the first time you vote at this registered address. See election day registration below for types of photo ID. 

Election Day Registration

A form of photo ID and a proof of address is required for election day registration. One document that includes both a photo ID and a current address, such as an Iowa driver's license, may be used for both ID and address requirements. 

If you do not have a current Iowa driver's license or it does not contain your current address, the following documentation is required.

Proof of ID:

  • A photo ID that is current, valid and contains an expiration date.
  • Some possible examples include Iowa non-driver ID card, Out-of-state driver's license or non-driver ID card, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID,  ID card issued by employer, Student ID card or tribal ID card

Proof of Residence:

  • ​A document that contains your name and current residence dated within 45 days.
  • Some possible examples include an residential lease, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government issued document.

If you cannot meet any of the above requirements, a registered voter from your precinct can act as an attester for both who you are and where you reside. Both you and the attester will be required to sign an oath. 

More information on Election Day Registration is available at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/edr.html.

ID Requirements for Voting

Voters in Iowa are required to provide ID at the polls. Acceptable ID includes:

  • Iowa driver's license or non-operator ID, OR
  • U.S. Passport, U.S. Military ID, tribal ID, OR
  • A voter registered in the precinct attesting to your identity. You and the attester will need to sign an oath. OR
  • Voters who pre-register to vote and do not have an Iowa driver's license or non-operator ID, will be issued a free Voter ID card.   

Voters without acceptable ID or an attester on election day will be offered a provisional ballot and can provide the needed ID up until the county canvas of votes. 

More information: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/voterIDfaq.html​

Where to get an ID

Iowa Department of Transportation

Obtaining a Driver’s License or non-operator ID

Casting a Ballot in Iowa

Important Dates

  • Party Presidential Caucuses: February 3, 2020
  • Primary Election: June 2, 2020
  • General Election: November 3, 2020
  • Early voting: Any registered voter can vote by mail or at local county auditors office using an absentee ballot in no more than 29-days prior to election.

Absentee voting

Opening/closing dates

  • Absentee ballots are provided by the county auditors beginning no earlier than 29 days before an election
  • Requests for absentee ballots must be made by 5 p.m. on the Friday, eleven days before the election.  
  • Voters can vote in person with an absentee ballot at their local election or county auditor office no earlier than 29 days before an election. When voting in-person, the ballot cannot be removed from the election office. 
  • Absentee ballots must be postmarked as mailed by the Monday before the election and received by the Monday after the election. 

Military voters and voters who reside outside the U.S.

  • Military voters may request a absentee ballot to be delivered by mail, email or fax. To do so, contact your County Auditor to make arrangements. 
  • Military voters residing outside the U.S. may return ballots by email, fax or mail. 
  • Military voters residing within the U.S. will need to return their ballot by mail to local County Auditor.  
  • Voters residing outside the U.S. must fill out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and mail it to local County Auditor or email it to the Secretary of State at uocava@sos.iowa.gov.
  • Overseas ballots must be received by the County Auditor by the close of the polls on election day in order to be counted.

More information on military voting is available at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/uocava/returnballot.html. For more information on voting outside the U.S. go to https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/uocava/overseascivilian/voterreg.html

Who is eligible to use an absentee ballot?

Any registered voter in Iowa may request an absentee ballot through the local county auditor.  

Request for for absentee ballot: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf

Polling places and hours

  • Use the Polling Place Locator to find your polling place for primary and general elections: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx
  • Caucus locations will be determined by the Democratic and Republican parties.
  • For a general election or primary, polls in Iowa are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Check with the County Auditor regarding voting hours for special elections.
  • Time off to vote: Iowa voters are entitled to time off if they do not have three consecutive scheduled hours off during polling hours on election day.

Rides to the polls

Many organizations offer free rides to polling places. Some of these include:

Help for disabled voters

  • Voters can sign an affidavit allowing for receiving assistance in voting.
  • If a voter cannot leave his or her car, two precinct officials, one from each party, will deliver ballot and election equipment outside of polling location. 
  • Information on voting with disabilities is available from the Secretary of State (https://sos.iowa.gov/disabilities.html

Ballots

Where to get more inforomation on candidates:

Along with checking local media and party resources, the League of Women voters includes information provided by candidates at http://onyourballot.vote411.org

Elections

Caucuses vs. primaries vs. general elections

  • Primary elections are conducted to select each party’s candidates in the general election.
  • The caucus is held on even years, selecting delegates to party Democratic and Republican county conventions. On U.S. Presidential election years, the caucus selects each party's candidate for U.S. President in the general election. The U.S. Presidential candidates do not appear on the primary election ballot. 
  • In Iowa, a voter must be a member of a political party in order to vote in that party’s primary or caucus.
  • In a general election, voters are not required to have a party affiliation.

Jurisdiction

Offices/Measures That May Appear on the Ballot

Federal (even years)

President/Vice-President (elected every four years; next election in 2020)

Senator (elected every six years for staggered terms; next election in 2020)

Representative (elected every two years)

State (even years)

Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer of State, Auditor of State, Attorney General, and Secretary of Agriculture (elected every four years; next election in 2022)

State Senator (elected every four years; next election 2020)

State Representative (elected every two years)

Statewide ballot measures

Iowa Supreme Court (elected every 8 years; next election 2020)

Other judges (elected every 6 years; next election 2020)

Municipal (City offices odd years; County offices even years)

School Board and other boards and commissions

County officers (4 years)

City officers (2 or 4 years)

Township officers (4 years)

Non-partisan offices (4 years)

Hospital Trustees (4 years)

Local ballot measures

Who are the candidates, and what else is on the ballot?

  • Sample ballots are typically available through the County Auditor or the local Commissioner of Elections. 
  • State and federal officials with certificates of endorsement by political parties will be made available and updated by the Secretary of State after July 27, 2020. https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/general/index.html

Important Dates

Caucuses are held on February 3, 2020

Primary Election day is June 2, 2020

Election Day is November 3, 2020

Dates for special elections can be held on any Tuesday except the four Tuesdays before and after the General and Primary elections. County Auditors are generally required to post dates 46 days prior to election. Approved special elections dates for 2020 are available at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/specelectioncal.html 

Who conducts elections?

  • The Secretary of State is the statewide Commissioner of Elections and oversees statewide and local elections
  • Caucuses are organized and conducted by individual political parties
  • Local County Auditors maintains voter rolls for each municipality and prepare ballots and administer balloting for each municipality

Voter Bill of Rights

Iowa does not have a Voter Bill of Rights. Rights of suffrage for electors is included in Article II of the Constitution of the State of Iowa. These rights have been codified and legislature has amended them.  

Where to go with complaints about candidates or how elections are conducted

The Secretary of State serves as the State Commissioner of Elections. To report questionable activity related to elections or the voting process, there is a Voter Hotline (1-888-SOS-VOTE) and a online submission form (https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterhotline/index.aspx).

Campaign finance

The Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board (https://ethics.iowa.gov) maintains a database (https://webapp.iecdb.iowa.gov/PublicView/Intro.aspx) that provides access to a variety of state and local campaign data, including candidate's election committee and Political Action Committee campaign finance filings. 

How to contact your elected officials:

Find your federally elected officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/

Find your elected state officials: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find

For local and county elected officials, local county auditor/commissioner of elections office should maintain this information: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html

General Resources on Voting and Elections

General Resources on Voting and Elections


Hotlines


1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)

1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)


Voter Registration & Election Day Resources

Find useful voter information including:

  • Local Election Office and Contact Information
  • Address, Telephone and Email for Local Election Offices
  • Upcoming Federal Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Upcoming State Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Identification Requirements
  • Voter Materials Transmission Options
  • State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered? Where’s my Ballot?

Population-Specific information and Resources

Voting Rights: Laws, Cases, Policy

Voter Engagement

Voter Education

Campaign Finance/Funding Information

Primary Sources, Lesson Plans & Exhibits

Disclaimer

Librarians from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT), a Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA), created these reference guides. These guides are intended for informational purposes only and are not in any way intended to be legal advice.

These guides are designated with a Creative Commons license and re-use and modification for educational purposes is encouraged.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.