voting booth

We’re taking a momentary break from learning the ins and outs of estate planning, how to form a successful, compliant nonprofit, and how to practice tax-wise charitable giving for an important message brought to you by democracy…go vote! The 2019 General Election will be held November 5, 2019. This is the first time Iowa’s city and school elections are combined on the same day; in past years school elections were held in September. According to figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, there are a total of 2,780 different races across the state. Furthermore, 5,445 candidates are running for 4,920 different seats. Plus there are 149 public measures being voted on.

Voting seems simple, but there can rules surrounding the voting process that can make things confusing, or at least uncertain. To help out I’ve compiled a list of useful information. Share it with your friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to cast their ballot!

Voter Ready

Do I have to register to vote?

Yes. Registering to vote is a legally required in Iowa. The requirements you have to meet to register are:

  1. Must be at least 17 years old, and be 18 years old by election day (or be 18 by the city/school election or general election vote in a primary election)
  2. Must be a U.S. Citizen
  3. Must be a resident of Iowa
  4. Cannot be a convicted felon (unless your voting rights have been restored)
  5. Cannot be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law
  6. Cannot claim the right to vote in any other place

What’s the pre-registration deadline to register to vote?

The pre-registration deadline to register to vote was October 25. (For future reference, you can pre-register to vote online, by mail, or at your county auditor’s office.

What if I didn’t pre-register?

If you miss the pre-registration October deadline don’t worry because you can register in person at your polling place on Election Day. To do this you go to your polling place and must provide proof of ID and current residence within the precinct. (The documentation can be either electronic or paper.)

Acceptable documents for proof of ID 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 an employer
  • Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
  • Tribal ID

Acceptable documents for proof of residence include:

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

What if I want to register on Election Day but don’t have the proper documentation? 

Even still, if you don’t have sufficient documentation on hand, you may still register if another registered voter, who lives in the same precinct, attests to your identity and residence via Election Day Registration documents. You and the attester will be required to sign an oath swearing the statements are true. (Note well that a false attestation for either party constitutes registration fraud and is considered a class “D” felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $7,500 and up to 5 years in prison.)

I’m unsure if I’m registered to vote in Iowa. How do I check?

Search your status here.

Speaking of polling place, where do I vote?

Find your polling place by entering your zip code here. (The polling place data on the Iowa Secretary of State page is for regularly scheduled Primary, General, School and City Elections. The data is provided by county auditors through the statewide voter registration database.)


Can I vote early or absentee?

register early to vote

Definitely! There are three ways to vote by absentee ballot if you are registered to vote in Iowa.

  1. Absentee ballot by mail
  2. Absentee ballot in person at county auditor’s office
  3. Absentee ballot at a satellite voting location

Iowans living overseas can register to vote and request an absentee ballot in one step.

I just moved to Iowa. Can I vote?

If you have moved to Iowa from another state or moved to a different county in Iowa, pre-register to vote in your new county 10 days before general elections. (It’s 11 days before all other elections.) If you miss the pre-registration deadline, Election Day registration is available.

I’m a college student in Iowa from another state? Can I vote in Iowa?

As a college student, you may choose to register to vote at your home address or at your college address. You can’t register to vote at both. To pre-register to vote, complete a voter registration form and return it to your county auditor’s office.

What about voters with disabilities?

If you or a family member need special assistance to vote, you have the right to have an accessible voting location, assistance to vote and accessible voting equipment. Here’s a helpful brochure on what you need to know.

Can an Iowan still vote if they have a guardian or conservator?

Yes, persons with a guardian or conservator can still vote, unless a judge has specifically said in a court ruling that they may not vote.

Do I need an ID to vote?

You will be asked to show one of the following at your polling place by precinct election officials:

  • Iowa Driver’s License (not expired more than 90 days)
  • Iowa Non-Operator ID (not expired more than 90 days)
  • U.S. Passport (not expired)
  • U.S. Military ID or Veteran ID (not expired)
  • Iowa Voter Identification Card (must be signed)
  • Tribal ID Card/Document (must be signed, with photo, not expired)

The Iowa Voter Identification Card is provided to all voters that don’t have either an Iowa’s driver’s licenses or non-operator ID.  The Card is provided automatically by the county auditor. (For replacement Cards, contact your County Auditor.)

If you’re without any of these forms of ID you can hope someone you know will be there to attest to your identity and residence. Otherwise, you can prove your identity using Election Day Registration documents.


Questions? Any information you think other readers should know? Feel free to contact me