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Voting Basics

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Voting in Iowa is simple and accessible for voters of all abilities.  Before you head to the polls this November 4th to cast your vote, here are a few things you need to know.

1.   WHO CAN VOTE.

If you can check all of the following boxes, you are allowed to vote in Iowa:

I am a U.S. citizen.

I am an Iowa resident.

I am over the age of 18 - or will be 18 years old by Election Day (November 4, 2014). 

If you check any of the following boxes, you cannot vote in Iowa: 

I am a convicted felon and my voting rights have not been restored.

A judge ruled I am "not competent to vote."
 
Voting rights may be restored after completion of the sentence, any required probation, parole, or supervised release, and all court costs, fees, and restitutions have been paid. The Governor's Office is responsible for the restoration of voting rights. For more information, call the Governor's Office at 515-281-5211 or visit https://governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/restoration-of-citizenship-rights/. The term "not competent to vote" is a very specific ruling and is very rarely used. It has nothing to do with whether you have a legal guardian, are living in an institution, are able to sign documents, or have given someone power of attorney.
 

2.    REGISTER TO VOTE.

If you want to exercise your right to vote, you must be registered. If you are already registered, you don't need to register again unless you have moved. If you aren't sure if you are registered, there are two easy ways to check:

Log onto https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/regtovote/search.aspx and enter your first name, last name and home zip code. If you are registered, you will be provided with your polling place address.

Call your county auditor's office. To find your local auditor, go to http://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html.  
 
If you are not registered to vote, you have two options: pre-registration or Election Day registration.

PRE-REGISTRATION. Pre-registering will save you a lot of time, hassle, and worry on Election Day. The pre-registration deadline is Saturday, October 25 at 5 p.m. To pre-register, complete the voter registration form found here and return it to your
        county auditor’s office. Forms can also be found at your auditor's office.  If you are not physically able to sign the form, use a
        rubber stamp or a mark you use regularly. You may ask someone to sign your name for you as long as the person is with you
        when signing the form and does so at your request. Your county auditor will send you a voter registration card within two
        weeks, but you do not need to bring your card to the polls with you (although having it may speed things up).

ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION. You can also register on Election Day. If you choose to register on Election Day, you must:

  • Go to your correct polling place based on your current address on Election Day.  If you are unsure of your polling place, you can call your county auditor’s office or go online and search at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx.

  • You will need to bring proof of your identity and where you live.  The best proof is your valid Iowa driver’s license with your current address. If you do not have an Iowa driver’s license, you may use another photo ID that is current, valid, and contains an expiration date. The following are acceptable IDs:
    • 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 issued by Iowa high school or college.
  • If your photo ID does not have your current address, you should bring other documents to prove where you live – be sure this includes your name and current address. Acceptable documents include:
    • Residential lease.
    • Utility bill (including a cell phone bill). 
    • Bank statement.
    • Paycheck. 
    • Government check or other government document.
  • If you do not have proof of identify and your current address, a registered voter from your precinct (such as a neighbor) may vouch for you. They will have to sign a document swearing they know you, and where you live.

3.     When to Vote.

This year Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you need a ride to the polls, contact a candidate you are supporting (most have programs to get people to the polls).

You may also vote early beginning Thursday, September 25, 2014. If you think you may not make it to your polling place on November 4th for any reason (such as bad weather, doctor’s appointments, or no transportation), you can vote early either in
        person or by absentee (mail-in) ballot.  In Iowa, you do not need a reason to vote early. Some people do it just because it stops
        the hundreds of political phone calls leading up to the election (it's true - if you vote early, candidates take your name off their
        call lists).

    • First, you must first be pre-registered to vote.  If you are, you have three early voting choices:
    • Voting by Mail.  To vote by mail, you must request an absentee ballot by mail by Friday, October 31 at 5 p.m. An absentee ballot request form is available at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf. Mail the completed, signed form to your county auditor. Once the county auditor receives your request form, you will be mailed a ballot. Absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than Monday, November 3 to be counted.  But do not wait until just before the Election to do all this - some post offices do not postmark these ballots and if they come in after November 4 without a postmark, they will not be counted.  So if you want to vote by mail early, get your request in soon and return your ballot well before the deadline.  We want your vote to count!

    • Voting in Your County Auditor's Office.  You can also vote early in your county auditor's office. You will be given an absentee ballot, but you vote the ballot right there in your county auditor's office.  When you are done, you'll just hand the completed ballot (in the secrecy envelopes) to your county auditor.  If you are not pre-registered to vote, you can pre-register and vote on the same day in your auditor's office.  Call your county auditor's office for their hours.

    • Voting Early at a Satellite Voting Station.  Some county auditors set up satellite voting stations where you can vote in-person absentee, the same as you would in the county auditor's office.  Usually these sites are in libraries, community centers, and senior centers - but sometimes they are in grocery stores and other places that are convenient for people.  Call your county auditor to find out if, when, and where they will offer satellite voting.


Remember! 
Accessible voting machines are available in all precincts. These machines can be used by any voter, not just those with disabilities.  If you need any assistance in voting, just talk to your precinct officials when you arrive at the polls.