League of Women Voters

Iowa Voting Guide

Registration Deadlines
In Person:
Election Day
By Mail:
Received by Saturday, October 27, 2018
Election Dates:
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 (General Election)
Secretary of State
321 East 12th Street
Lucas Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to vote in Iowa, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States
  • A resident of Iowa
  • At least 18 years old on Election Day
    NOTE: If you are 17½ years old, you may register to vote, but your registration will not be effective until your 18th birthday
  • Not convicted of a felony (and if you have, you must have had your voting rights restored)
  • Not currently been judged by a court as incompetent to vote
  • Not voting in any other place

ID Needed for Voter Registration

To register to vote in Iowa, you must provide an Iowa driver's license number or your social security number if you have one. There is a box for your to check on the voter registration form if you have neither of those numbers.

If you are registering to vote for the first time at the polls on Election Day, or after a recent move, you must prove both who you are and where you live. You can use any of these forms of ID as long as they are current, valid and contain an expiration date:

  • Iowa drivers license
  • Iowa non-driver ID card
  • Out-of-state driver's license or non-driver ID card
  • US passport
  • US military ID
  • ID card issued by employer
  • Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college

If your photo ID does not contain your current address, you may use another document to prove where you live. The following are acceptable proof of residence as long as they contain your name and current address and are current within 45 days:

  • Residential lease
  • Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
  • Bank statement
  • Paycheck
  • Government check or other government document

If you are asked for ID and you don't have any of the documents listed above, you can have another voter who is registered in your precinct who knows you vouch for your ID and residence.

If you don't have the needed ID and don't have another voter to vouch for you, you may cast a provisional ballot.

ID Needed for Voting?

Beginning January 1, 2018, all voters will be asked to show their ID before voting at the polls. If you do not have any of the below forms of ID you will be asked to sign an oath verifying your identity and will then be allowed to vote a regular ballot.

Acceptable forms of ID are:

  • Iowa Driver's License
  • Iowa Non-Driver's ID
  • US Passport
  • Voter ID (if signed)
  • US Military Veteran ID
  • US Military ID

Any registered voter who does not have an ID issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation will be sent a Voter ID Card free, automatically, in the mail. When you receive your card be sure to sign it and keep it in your purse or wallet and take it with you to the polls on Election Day. If you lose or misplace your Voter ID Card you can request a new one by contacting your county auditors.

Registration Deadline

Not registered? Use our registration tool to fill out your application!

You may register in person on Election Day! Be sure to bring the correct voter ID to the polls in order to successfully register at the polls.

If you choose to register by mail, the form must be received by your election officials 10 days before primary and general elections, and 11 days before all other elections. If you mail your registration application, it must be postmarked 15 days before the election or received by either 10 or 11 days before the election, depending on the type of election.

Registration is permanent. After you register, you do not have to register again unless you move.


Verify Voter Registration

To verify your voter registration status, please click here or contact your elections office or board of elections for your county, city or state.

Absentee Ballot Process

Beginning January 1, 2018 you must now provide ID information on your absentee ballot request forms. All request forms must now include your driver's license/non-driver's ID number or your Voter ID Card's four-digit PIN number. Request forms without these forms of ID will not be accepted.

Applications for absentee ballots can be obtained online in a PDF format, or mailed upon request from the Secretary of State. You can also request a ballot by mailing the application to the county auditor/commissioner of elections in the county where you are registered.

The request form must be received in the county auditor's office by 5 pm on the Friday before the election. If the request is received so late that it is unlikely the absentee ballot can be returned by mail in time to be considered for counting, the county auditor will enclose a statement to that effect with the absentee ballot.

After receiving the request form, the county auditor will mail the voter a ballot. For primary and general elections, the ballots are mailed no later than 40 days before election day. For other elections, ballots are mailed to voters as soon as they are ready. The county auditor will include instructions on how to mark the ballot as well as how to return the ballot.

You can return your voted absentee ballot by mail. The ballot must be postmarked by the Monday before election day or earlier and received in the county auditor's office no later than the Monday following the election. Voted absentee ballots cannot be delivered to the polling place on election day. If you have not returned your absentee ballot on election day, you have the following options:

  • Deliver your voted absentee ballot to the county auditor's office before the polls close on election day
  • Surrender your voted absentee ballot at the polls and vote a regular ballot
  • Vote a provisional ballot at the polls if you cannot surrender your voted absentee ballot

Overseas and Military Voters

You are a Military or Overseas voter if you are in uniformed services, living overseas OR a spouse or dependant of a uniformed services voter. To get registered and vote, you can utilize Overseas Vote Foundation.

If you have additional questions about elections and voting overseas you can use our state specific elections official directory or contact the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Early Voting

In-person Absentee Voting is available in Iowa beginning 40 days before an election. Voting takes place in the county auditor's office.

You may vote absentee in-person until the day before Election Day, unless polling places open at noon on Election Day. In that case, you may vote absentee in-person from 8am-11am on Election Day.

Election Dates

The next election is Tuesday, November 6, 2018 (General). The pre-registration deadline is Saturday, October 27, 2018. Election Day, in person registration is available.

Contact your local Board of Elections for more information.


Poll Worker Information

In order to be a poll worker in Iowa:

  • You must be registered to vote in Iowa
  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • Political affiliation required
  • You will be entitled to compensation
  • Must be a resident of the county
  • You must complete required training
  • High school junior and senior students may work if they meet certain statutory requirements

To sign up, contact your local board of elections.

Polling Place Hours

Polls are open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Time Off To Vote

If your work schedule doesn't give you three consecutive hours off work while the polls are open, you have the right to take up to three hours off from work to vote.

You must make a written request for time off to vote to your employer before election day. Your employer has the right to specify which hours you get to take off. You cannot be penalized and deductions cannot be made from your regular salary or wages on account of this absence

Polling Place Locator

You can find your polling place by utilizing your state resource.

If you have further questions on your polling place location, please contact your county clerk.

Provisional Voting

If your name is not on the list of registered voters, you may register to vote at the polls on Election day and vote a regular ballot.

If you do not have the proper forms of ID to register on Election Day, or if someone challenges your right to vote on Election day, you may cast a provisional ballot.

The envelope has a place for you to explain why you believe that the ballot should count. A special board will meet after Election Day to look at your registration record and the information you have provided. The board will then decide if your ballot can be counted. Before you leave the polls, you will be given a written notice explaining your voting rights and listing the date on which the special ballot board will meet. If your ballot is not counted, you will receive a letter in the mail explaining why it cannot be counted.

Voting Machines

The voting systems used in Iowa are optical scan and Hand counted paper ballots.

Optical Scanning: With this system, you will recieve a card or sheet of paper, which you take over to a private table or booth. The card has the names of the various candidates and ballot measures printed on it. With a pen or pencil you fill in a little box or circle or the space between two arrows. In some places, you can check your card or paper right there at the polling place by feeding it into a card-reading machine to make sure you have voted the way you want to. When you are finished filling out all the cards. You may bring the cards over to a ballot box, where poll workers will show you how to put the cards in the box. Or in some places, you may feed the completed cards or papers into a computer device that counts the votes. When Election Day is over, the computer counts how many votes were cast for each candidate.

Paper Ballots: Paper ballots are one of the oldest ways of voting in America. They are still used on Election Day. Paper ballots are mostly used for absentee ballots. When you come to the polling place, you will get a paper ballot from the poll worker. You take it to the voting booth, and use a pen or pencil to mark a box next to your candidate and issue choices. You then drop the marked ballot into a sealed ballot box. At the end of the day, votes are counted by poll workers reading the ballots.

You can learn more about voting systems by checking out the Elections Assistance Commission's (EAC) resource or Verified Voting.

Candidate and Ballot Measure Information

To see a list of available races, visit the race index.

The Ames/Storey County Candidate Guide will go live on September 20, 2016 for the Tuesday, November 8, 2016 General Election.

Provisions for Voters with Disabilities

If you need help marking your ballot because of a disability or because you can't read English, any person you choose may help you, except your employer, your employer's agent or an officer or agent of your union. If you want help from the precinct workers, one person from each political party will help you. You will need to sign a form indicating that you asked for help. All voting instructions at the polls are printed in large type.

If you cannot get into the polling place because of a disability, two precinct workers will bring a ballot to your vehicle. They may also help you mark the ballot, but only if you request assistance. You do not have to tell anyone ahead of time that you will need to vote in your car. However, you may want to call ahead or bring someone with you to tell the precinct workers that you need to vote in your car.

If you have questions or concerns about voting accessibility, please contact your county auditor's office or your Secretary of State's office. A voter guide is also available on audio cassette from the Library for the Blind. To request one you can call 515-281-1333 or 1-800-362-2587. Each precinct also provides a braille version of voter instructions and voter rights.

For more information, you can utilize the Association of People With Disabilities resource.

Campaign Finance Information

For information on federal campaign contributions, please visit Open Secrets.

For information on state campaign contributions, please visit state's resource.

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Election Day Problems?

Call one of these hotlines:
1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
1-844-418-1682 (Arabic)


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