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By Paula Dierenfeld, Mayor, City of Johnston

Elections are important.  And perhaps the most important elections are those that are closest to us, our city elections.  In just a few short weeks, we will have the opportunity to vote for individuals that will serve as our city leaders, our mayors and city council members. Sadly, too many of us don’t take the time or make the effort to vote in city elections.

Turnout in city elections is often less than 5% of the eligible voters.  That means, in a community like Johnston with a population of 20,000, only 400 people turnout to vote.  This small handful of self-selected individuals decide who will make the important decisions that impact the daily lives of everyone in our communities for years to come.

It doesn’t need to be that way and it shouldn’t be.  We all have a right to vote.  And we all have an equal say in who’s elected.  Your vote is your voice.  As citizens, we have a responsibility to use our vote in a way that best serves us and the communities in which we live.  That means becoming an informed citizen, learning about the candidates, and voting on Election Day.

There’s still time to make sure you are prepared to vote in the upcoming city elections. What should you do?

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote.  You can’t vote unless you’re registered.  Getting registered is easy to do.  You can get a voter registration form online from the Secretary of State’s website at  Download the form, fill it out and mail it to your county auditor’s office.  Or even easier, you can register online on the Secretary of State’s website but you need an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID to do so.  
  2. If you can’t get to the polls on Election Day, you can vote by absentee ballot.  Any registered voter can vote by absentee – you don’t need a reason.  You can vote absentee right now at your local county auditor’s office.  Or you can vote absentee by mail.  You can get an absentee ballot request form by calling your county auditor or by downloading a form from your county auditor’s website. Click here for county auditor contact information.
  3. Get to know the candidates.  Attend public forums to hear the candidates speak on the issues.  Ask the candidates questions when you see them on the street or at the grocery store.  Call or email them your suggestions and concerns.
  4. Vote and encourage your family members and neighbors to vote.  It’s easy to vote in Iowa, even if you have a disability.  Each polling place has voting machines that allow persons with disabilities to vote unassisted.  If you would like assistance, you can ask a precinct election official for help.  If you have difficulty getting into the polling place, a ballot can be brought to your car.

Many city elections have been decided by just one vote.  Your vote does count.  You have a right and responsibility to vote for the people who will be making important decisions for you every day.  Make sure your voice is heard by voting in the city elections on Tuesday, November 7. 


Mayor Dierenfeld was first elected in 2008.  She is an attorney and partner at the Nyemaster Goode law firm in Des Moines.  Before that, she was a Commissioner on the Iowa Utilities Board (appointed by Gov. Branstad) and served on the staffs of both Gov. Branstad and US Senator Charles Grassley.