Last updated: October 2020
Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Central Time on Election Day.
You can also vote early by casting an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office. Absentee ballots will be available at the county auditors’ offices no earlier than 29 days before Election Day.
You can also request an absentee ballot by mail. An absentee ballot request form can be downloaded here. The request form must be received by the county auditor’s office by 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday, 10 days before Election Day.
How to Find Your Polling Place: Visit the Iowa Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page.
Registration Deadlines: The deadline to pre-register to vote is 10 days before the General Election. The deadline for this year’s General Election is Saturday, October 24. County auditors’ offices will be open from 8:00 am until at least 5:00 pm on the day registration closes. A registration form submitted by mail will be accepted if it was either postmarked by October 19 (15 days before the General Election) or received by the county auditor by 5:00 p.m. on October 24 (the day registration closes).
OR, a voter can register to vote in person at the polls on Election Day.
How to Check Your Registration: Use Iowa’s registrant search website or call 866-OUR-VOTE.
Registration Eligibility: To be qualified to register to vote in Iowa you must:
- Be a citizen of United States.
- Be an Iowa resident.
- Be at least eighteen years of age by Election Day.
- Not claim the right to vote in more than one place.
- Not be convicted of a felony, or if so convicted in the past, have your rights restored.
- Not be judged mentally incompetent to vote by a court.
How to Register: To register, you must complete a voter registration application and deliver it to your county auditor’s office.
You can also register to vote in person on Election Day by completing a voter registration application, making a written oath, and providing proof of identity and residence. If a voter does not have proof of identity and residence, a person wishing to vote may establish identity and residency by written oath of a person who is registered to vote in the precinct.
Identification Required for Registration: Voters may register by mail without identification, but may be asked to provide identification when they vote at the polls.
Iowa has same day registration, and voters can register in-person on Election Day by going to their polling place (which can be found here.
A voter registering at their polling place on Election Day may present an Iowa driver’s license or Iowa non-driver ID card. If they do not have an Iowa driver’s license, may use a current, valid photo ID that contains an expiration date. The following also are acceptable IDs if they contain the voter’s photograph and a valid expiration date:
- Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card;
- U.S. passport;
- U.S. military ID;
- ID card issued by an employer; or
- Student ID card issued by Iowa high school or postsecondary educational institution
If the photo ID presented does not contain the voter’s current address in the precinct, the voter shall also present one of the following documents showing the voter’s name and current address in the precinct:
- Residential lease
- Property tax statement
- Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
- Bank statement
- Government check
- Other government document
See the Iowa Secretary of State’s Identification Requirements poster here. The identification requirements for inactive or pending voters are slightly different than the identification requirement for voters who register to vote on Election Day.
You may cast an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office before Election Day. Absentee ballots will be available at the county auditors’ offices no earlier than 29 days before Election Day.
You can also request an absentee ballot by mail. An absentee ballot request form can be downloaded here. The request form must be received by the county auditor’s office by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday, eleven days before Election Day. For general elections, the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Saturday, ten days before Election Day.
You can return your voted absentee ballot by mail. Absentee ballots received in the county auditor’s office by the time the polls close on Election Day are eligible for counting. Absentee ballots received after the polls close on Election Day must have been postmarked by the Monday before Election Day and received in the county auditor’s office no later than noon on the Monday following Election Day to be counted.
Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot
Although not required, you may be asked to show identification when you go to vote. Voters who do not have photo identification may be asked to sign an oath verifying their identity.
The following are acceptable forms of ID unless you are registering to vote on Election Day (see above for the identification requirements for Election Day registration):
- Iowa Driver’s License;
- Iowa Non-Operator’s ID;
- U.S. Passport;
- Tribal ID;
- Military ID;
- Veteran’s ID; or
- Voter ID card.
A voter without one of the listed forms of ID may have the voter’s identity attested to by another registered voter in the precinct or may prove identity and residence using Election Day Registration documents. Voters without the necessary ID or an attester will be offered a provisional ballot and can provide ID up until the time of the county canvass of votes (Monday after Election Day).
Moving within the Same County
If a voter moves within the same precinct, or to a different precinct within the same county, and has not updated their registration information, the voter should go to the polling place that corresponds with their new address and update their registration information by completing a new voter registration form using the new address and supplying ID to indicate the new address.
Voters who have not updated their identification to show their new address should bring with them proof of their current address, such as: (1) residential lease; (2) utility bill; (3) bank statement; (3) paycheck; or any other governmental document showing the voter’s current address.
Moving Between Counties
If a voter moves to a different county and has not updated their registration information, the voter should go to the polling place that corresponds with their new address. The voter will need to re-register at that polling place, and may do so on Election Day.
Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting by mail, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and merchant marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together these groups are called UOCAVA voters).
Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot
UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) Iowa-specific FCPA page.
UOCAVA voters may also register to vote and request an absentee ballot from their county auditor. Information can be found here.
Receiving an Absentee Ballot
UOCAVA voters may receive their ballot by mail, email, or fax. Ballots must be returned by mail; some military voters may be eligible to return ballots by email or fax. Information can be found here. Please also see FVAP’s Iowa-specific FCPA page.
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot
The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters. You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities. You may vote a FWAB if you requested a regular absentee ballot more than 14 days prior to Election Day but have not received it. If you are eligible to return your FWAB by email or fax, your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in Iowa by the time the polls close (9 p.m. Central Time) on Election Day. Email addresses and fax numbers are available on here (scroll down after you click the link). Otherwise, your FWAB must be postmarked the day before Election Day and received by the Monday following Election Day. For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s Iowa-specific FCPA page.
Until very recently, in Iowa a person’s voter registration was cancelled if the person is convicted of a felony. However, on August 5, 2020, the Governor issued an executive order ending Iowa’s policy of permanent disenfranchisement for everyone with a felony conviction except for felony homicide offenses. The executive order automatically and prospectively restores voting rights to most Iowans who have completed their terms of incarceration, probation, parole, or special sentence. Individuals whose rights were restored by the executive order will need to register to vote at their current residential addresses.
An individual whose rights have not been automatically restored (i.e. a person convicted of violating chapter 707 of the Iowa Code “Homicide and Related Crimes”) may apply for restoration of voting rights once the person has discharged probation and parole and completed repayment of court costs, restitution, and fines or must be on a payment plan. For more information, call the Governor’s Office at 515-281-5211 or visit their Restoration of Rights website.
Documents are being updated.