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Election Administration in Iowa

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Election Types and Dates

Election Dates

Upcoming Primary Elections

The primary election is June 7, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Three Year Election Calendar [link]

Upcoming General Elections

The general election is November 8, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Three Year Election Calendar [link]

How is a nominee determined?

How is a nominee determined (caucus, primary, convention)?

Primary elections, except that party conventions are used to nominate candidates for president.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 43.3 [link]

Iowa Code § 43.4 [link]

Political Party Affiliation

Can voters register by party in the state?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.11(1)(i) [link]

Must voters be registered with a political party if they would like to vote on that party’s candidates in a partisan primary election (i.e., are primaries open or closed)?

Yes; Iowa's primaries are technically closed. However, registered voters can change their party affiliation at the polls on the day of the primary election and then vote that party's primary ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 43.42 [link]

When can a voter change or switch their party affiliation?

Voters may submit a request in writing to their county election official at any point before the mail voter registration deadline for a primary election. Alternatively, voters can change their party affiliation at the polls on Election Day

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 43.41 [link]

Iowa Code § 43.42 [link]

Voter Registration

Who Can Vote?

Can someone pre-register to vote if they will not be 18 years old by the next election? If so, who?

No. A person must be at least 17-and-a-half years old before they can register to vote, and only if they will turn 18 years old by Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.5 [link]

Can 17-year-olds who will be 18-year-olds by the general election vote in the primary?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.5 [link]

Does the state take away the right to vote from persons convicted of certain crimes? If so, what crimes?

Any person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.6 [link]

If people lose the right to vote because of a criminal conviction, can they regain the right to vote? How?

Under current state law, voters who were convicted of a felony must apply to have their voting rights restored by the governor Unless the governor grants their request, or (for federal felonies only) the president pardons them, the voter cannot regain the right to vote.

Between 2004 and 2011, Iowa automatically restored the right to vote to people convicted of a felony as soon as they completed their sentence.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.6 [link]

Brennan Center for Justice, Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Iowa [link]

Voter Registration Options

Is fully online voter registration available? (i.e., can voters fill in and submit an online application without printing and signing it?)

Yes. However, a person must a Social Security Number and either an Iowa driver's license card or state non-operators card to register to vote online.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Secretary of State, Voter Registration [link]

Does the state accept the National Mail Registration Form?

Yes. Click here to download the form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

National Mail Voter Registration Form [link]

Is the state required to register voters at public assistance agencies and driver's license agencies, per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

U.S. Department of Justice website [link]

Student-Specific Rules

Does the state have specific rules on students registering to vote or voting?

Students in Iowa may choose to register to vote either at the address where they live while attending school or at another address considered to be their home (such as their parent's address).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.5A [link]

Voter Registration Deadlines

When is the voter registration deadline?

For general elections, the voter registration deadline is 5:00 p.m. on the 10th day before Election Day. For all other elections, the voter registration deadline is 5:00 p.m. on the 11th day before Election Day. However, voters can also register to vote after the deadline at an in-person absentee voting location or at the polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.9 [link]

How is the deadline enforced for mailed applications?

A mailed voter registration application should either (1) be received by the voter registration deadline, OR (2) be postmarked at least 15 days before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.9 [link]

When must a voter make changes to their registration for the changes to be in effect before the person seeks to vote?

Voters can change their registration information either (1) before the voter registration deadline, (2) when they vote at an in-person absentee voting location, or (3) when they vote at the polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.9 [link]

Same-Day Registration

Can voters register and vote on the same day (i.e., does the state offer same-day registration)?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Voters Who Have Moved or Changed Their Name

Can people vote if they moved, but did not update their voter registration with their new address?

Yes, voters can update their registration address when casting an in-person absentee ballot or at the polls on Election Day. On Election Day, such voters should vote at the polling place assigned to the precinct where they currently live. If the voter's current address cannot be confirmed by election board members at the polling place by either (1) calling the office of the county commissioner of elections; (2) reviewing a printed list of all registered voters who are qualified to vote in the county for the election being held that day; or (3) researching the county's voter registration records using a computer, then the voter will be given a provisional ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.4(49) [link]

Can people vote if they have changed their name, but did not update their voter registration with their new name?

Yes, voters can update the name in their voter registration record when casting an in-person absentee ballot or at the polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Language, Literacy, and Disability Access

Language and Literacy Access

Does the state have any places that must provide election materials in languages other than English, per Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006, Determinations Under Section 203, 76 Fed. Reg. 63602 (Oct. 13, 2011) [link]

Does the state have any other rules about providing election materials in languages other than English?

No.

Who can help a voter with reading assistance or translation if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under any voter who needs assistance due to inability to read English may be assisted in the voting booth two election members of different political parties or by a person of their choice.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Iowa Code § 49.90 [link]

Iowa Code § 53.15 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.89 [link]

Disability Access

Who can help a voter with a disability if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to due to blindness or disability may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under any voter who needs assistance due to inability to read English may be assisted in the voting booth two election members of different political parties or by a person of their choice.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Iowa Code § 49.90 [link]

Iowa Code § 53.15 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.89 [link]

Does the state have other rules related to access for persons with disabilities?

Iowa has ""curbside voting"" - if a voter with a disability cannot enter the polling place, then the voter may stay inside their car outside of the polling place, and two election board members of different political parties must bring the voter a ballot, allow the voter to mark it, and then return the completed ballot to the polling place for the voter.

Additionally, a person who is specifically adjudicated ""incompetent to vote"" by a court loses the right to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.90 [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.6 [link]

Early Voting, Absentee Voting, and Other Ways to Vote

Vote-by-Mail

Does the state provide mail ballots to all voters without a request?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.2 [link]

Early Voting/Absentee In-Person Voting

Does the state have early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Yes; Iowa has in-person absentee voting.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.10 [link]

Where does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

At the county election commissioner's office and at satellite absentee voting stations.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.11 [link]

Iowa Code § 53.10 [link]

When does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

In-person absentee voting in the county election commissioner's office begins when absentee ballots are ready, which must be no later than 40 days before Election Day for a primary or general election. In-person absentee voting in the commissioner's office ends the day before Election Day, except that in elections where the polls on Election Day open at 12:00 p.m., in-person absentee voting is available in the commissioner's office from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the commissioner's office.

Each satellite absentee voting station is open at times chosen by the commissioner, but it must be open for at least one day for a minimum of 6 hours. All satellite absentee voting stations must close no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.11 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, In Person Absentee Voting [link]

Iowa Code § 53.10 [link]

Iowa Code § 53.2(a) [link]

What official chooses early voting/absentee in-person voting locations?

Satellite absentee voting station may be established by the county election commissioner. Additionally, if at least 100 registered voters sign a petition requesting that a satellite absentee voting station be established, then the county election commissioner must establish a satellite absentee voting station. For a general or primary election, the petition was must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 47th day before Election Day. For a regular city election, regular city primary election, or regular school election, the petition must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 30th day before Election Day. For a city runoff election, the petition must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 21st day before Election Day. For a special election, the petition must be filed no later than the 33rd day before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.11 [link]

Are lists of early voters/absentee in-person voters published? How?

The county election officials are required to keep a list of all voters who requested absentee ballots and who submitted absentee ballots. For general and primary elections, this information is recorded and maintained as part of the electronic record and list of registered voters for two years, and copies of the list are available to members of the public.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.19 [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.38 [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.39 [link]

Absentee Voting by Mail

Can anyone vote absentee by mail without an excuse? If not, what excuses allow a voter to vote absentee by mail?

In practice, any voter can vote absentee by mail without an excuse. Technically, a voter must either (1) have an expectation that they will be unable to go to the polls on Election Day, (2) will be absent from their precinct while the polls are open on Election Day, or (3) be unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to illness or physical disability. However, the voter is not required to provide any of these excuses to obtain or cast an absentee ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Absentee Ballot Application [link]

Iowa Code § 53.1 [link]

Deadline to apply for absentee ballot by mail

The application must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. If the application is submitted by fax or e-mail, the original application must also be submitted in person or by mail, and if mailed, it must be postmarked no later than the Friday before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.2(b) [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.2(47) [link]

How does a voter apply for an absentee mail ballot?

Voters must submit an official application to their county election commissioner or submit a signed request with the same information as the absentee ballot application. Official applications are available at the county election commissioner's office or can be downloaded here. Applications can be submitted in person, by mail, by fax, or by e-mail. If an application is faxed or e-mailed, the original application must also be submitted in person or by mail, and if mailed, it must be postmarked no later than the Friday before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.2(47) [link]

Iowa Code § 53.2 [link]

Can a voter make an online request for an absentee mail ballot?

A voter can submit their absentee ballot application by fax or e-mail. However, the original application must also be submitted in person or by mail, and if mailed, it must be postmarked no later than the Friday before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.2(47) [link]

Iowa Code § 53.2 [link]

Does a voter need to submit any supporting documentation or verification with an absentee mail ballot or absentee mail ballot application? If so, what is required?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.25 [link]

Iowa Code § 53.2 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may request or turn in an absentee mail ballot application for a voter?

A person who is an actual or implied agent for a political party, candidate, or committee who collects a completed absentee ballot must provide the applicant with an official receipt and ensure that the county election commissioner receives the application within 72 hours or by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, whichever comes first.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.2(8) [link]

Iowa Code § 53.3 [link]

Deadline to return absentee ballots

The ballot must be either (1) received by the time the polls close on Election Day, OR (2) postmarked no later than the day before Election Day and received no later than 12:00 p.m. on the Monday after Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.17 [link]

Deadline to return absentee ballots

For hand-delivered ballots, receipt - the county election official must receive the ballot by the close of polls on Election Day. However, if the ballot is mailed, it will be accepted if it is postmarked by the day before the election and the county election official receives it by the Monday after the election.

Source (confirmed on: 2014-05-29)

http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?category=billinfo&service=IowaCode&ga=83 [link]

http://www.sos.state.ia.us/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html#2 [link]

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ico/code/53.17.pdf [link]

Are there restrictions on who may return a voter's absentee mail ballot for them?

No, except that if a different person delivers the voter's ballot to the county election commissioner's office, the person must deliver it either within 72 hours of receiving the ballot from the voter or by the time the polls close on Election Day, whichever comes first. Similarly, if a different person mails the voter's ballot to the county election commissioner's office, the person must mail it within 72 hours of receiving the ballot from the voter or by the time the polls close on Election Day, whichever comes first.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.17 [link]

Are there any special emergency rules that allow a voter to vote absentee by mail if they are unable to make it to the polls at the last minute?

Any registered voter who becomes a patient or resident of a hospital or health care facility in the county where the voter is registered to vote within three days before Election Day or on Election Day itself may make an emergency request for an absentee ballot. If there are officers of election visiting the hospital in order to allow patients to vote, the registered voter may request their absentee ballot directly from them. Or, a voter may request their absentee ballot by calling the office of the commissioner no later than four hours before the close of the polls on Election Day. A ballot will then be delivered to the voter by two special precinct officers of different political parties. If the voter is discharged from the hospital or health care facility, the officers may deliver it to wherever the voter is staying within the county.

If the registered voter becomes a patient or resident of a hospital or health care facility outside the county where the voter is registered to vote within three days before Election Day or on Election Day itself, the voter may designate a person to deliver a blank absentee ballot and then return it after the voter marks it. The designee may be any person the voter chooses except a candidate. The request for an absentee ballot may be made by telephone to the office of the commissioner no later than four hours before the close of the polls on Election Day. Then the ballot will be delivered to the voter by mail or by the person designated by the voter. An application form will be included with the absentee ballot, and the voter must sign the application and make sure it is returned with the completed absentee ballot. The completed ballot must be received by the county election official by the close of polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.22 [link]

Are lists of people who vote absentee by mail published? How?

The county election officials are required to keep a list of all voters who requested absentee ballots and who submitted absentee ballots. For general and primary elections, this information is recorded and maintained as part of the electronic record and list of registered voters for two years, and copies of the list are available to members of the public.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.19 [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.38 [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.39 [link]

Presidential-only ballots

Under federal law, any registered voter who moves out of the state after the 30th day before a Presidential election may vote for President and Vice President either in person at the voter’s previous state of residence or using an absentee ballot from the voter’s previous state of residence.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

52 U.S.C. § 10502(e) [link]

Absentee Voting for Military and Overseas Voters

Who is eligible for military/overseas absentee voting?

The following people are considered a military or overseas voters:

  • Members of the army, navy, marines, air force, and coast guard, and their spouses and dependents while on active service
  • Members of the Merchant Marine, and their spouses and dependents
  • Civilian employees of the U.S. serving outside the territorial limits of the U.S., and their spouses and dependents who live with or are accompanying them
  • Members of religious or welfare agencies assisting members of the armed forces who are officially attached to and serving with the armed forces, and their spouses and dependents
  • U.S. citizens who live outside the territorial limits of the U.S. and registered or eligible to vote in Iowa before leaving the country, or would have been had they been at least 18 years old when they left
  • U.S. citizens who were born outside of and never lived in the country, and the last place one of their parents was registered or eligible to vote was (or would have been, if they had been 18 years old when they left) in Iowa.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.5(4)-(5) [link]

Iowa Code § 53.37 [link]

How do voters apply for a military/overseas ballot?

Any military/overseas voter may request an absentee ballot using the regular application process (see above section on Absentee Voting by Mail for details), a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) (which also functions as a voter registration application if necessary) or any written request that contains the voter's name, age, Iowa address (including county of residence and township of residence, if application), address where they would like their ballot sent, party affiliation (if the election is a primary election), signature, and a statement explaining why the voter is eligible to receive a military/overseas absentee ballot (for example, ""I am a U.S. citizen living in France."") The applicant can also state whether they would like their ballot sent to them by mail, fax, or e-mail. If no indication is made, the ballot will be mailed.

The application can be sent to the county election commissioner by mail, fax, e-mail, or personal delivery by the voter or someone else of the voter's choice. All written requests must be signed, which means that an e-mail request must be a scanned copy of a signed application. If the request is submitted by fax or e-mail, it is NOT necessary to mail or deliver the original request.

Alternately, for a general election ONLY, the voter can designate an immediate family member (parent, parent-in-law, adult sibling, or adult child) as a ""proxy"" to request a ballot on their behalf.

A military/overseas voter can request that they be sent absentee ballots for all future elections in that calendar year.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.40 [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.320(53) [link]

Deadline to apply for a military/overseas ballot

The application must be received by the county election commissioner in time for the commissioner to send the voter a ballot and for the voter to return it by the ballot return deadline.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.2 [link]

Deadline to return the military/overseas ballot

In most circumstances, the ballot must be either (1) received by the time the polls close on Election Day, OR (2) postmarked no later than the day before Election Day and received no later than 12:00 p.m. on the Monday after Election Day.

However, if the voter is an ""imminent danger pay area"" as designated by the Department of Defense or is an active member of the army, navy, marine corps, merchant marine, coast guard, air force or Iowa national guard who is located outside the United States or any of its territories, the ballot can be returned by fax or email so long as the voter waives their right to a secret ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.44(2) [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.320(53) [link]

Iowa Code § 53.17 [link]

Who is eligible to use a write-in absentee ballot? How does it work?

Any military/overseas voter may vote using a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) for any general election, primary election, or special election for federal office or state legislature.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 53.53 [link]

Iowa Code § 69.14 [link]

On Election Day

Where do you vote in person?

Where do you vote in person?

Typically, at the polling place assigned to the precinct where a voter lives. However, in elections other than general elections, primary elections, and special elections for federal offices and state legislature, the county election commissioner can combine precincts. Additionally, in city elections, school board elections, and special elections, the county election commissioner can establish "voting centers" where any voter in the county may cast their ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.9 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.11 [link]

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for most elections. If the county election commissioner predicts low voter turnout, the commissioner can open the polls as late as 12:00 p.m. for school district elections, city elections, benefited district elections, and elections for unincorporated areas of counties.

Voters waiting in line to cast a ballot when the polls close must be allowed to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.74 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.73 [link]

In the Voting Booth

Can a voter bring children into the voting booth with them?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.88 [link]

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Yes. If an employee does not have three consecutive hours off of work while the polls are open, the employee may leave work to vote on Election Day for up to 3 hours in order to vote. An employer may not penalize an employee or reduce their pay if they leave work to vote. An employee notify their employer in writing before Election Day of their decision to take time off, and the employer may specify the hours during which the employee may leave work to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.109 [link]

Campaigning, Electioneering, and Recording Devices

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering during early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Campaigning, posting signs, treating voters, loitering while wearing campaign clothing or apparel, and soliciting votes is prohibited at early voting stations and within 300 feet of the entrances to the building where the early voting station is located.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 39A.4 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

Iowa Code § 53.10 [link]

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering on Election Day?

Campaigning, posting signs, treating voters, loitering while wearing campaign clothing or apparel, and soliciting votes is prohibited at polling places and within 300 feet of the entrances to the building where the polling place is located.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 39A.4 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

Can a voter wear a button or t-shirt with a candidate's name or logo on it into the polling place when they vote?

Yes, but they must leave the polling place immediately after voting and not loiter within 300 feet of it.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 39A.4 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

*NEW 1** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) inside the polling place or voting booth?

Yes, but not in the voting booth. The use of cameras, cell phones, and other electronic communications devices in the voting booth is prohibited.

Source (confirmed on: 10/14/2016)

Iowa Code § 49.88(1) [link]

*NEW 2** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) outside the polling place but within the zone around the polling place where campaigning/electioneering is banned?

Yes; however, loitering or congregating during voting, either within a polling place or within 300 feet of an outside door of the polling place is prohibited. Interrupting, hindering, or opposing a voter who is in or approaching the polling place to vote is also prohibited.

Source (confirmed on: 10/14/2016)

Iowa Code § 39A.4(1)(a) [link]

Iowa Code § 39A.5 [link]

Who's at the Polls?

Can persons other than election workers observe inside the polls?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.104 [link]

What are observers inside the polls called in the state?

Poll watchers.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Poll Watcher Handbook [link]

Does the state establish requirements to observe inside the polls?

The following entities may appoint poll watchers:

  • A political party that has a candidate on the ballot may appoint 3 poll watchers per polling place
  • A non-party political organization that has a candidate on the ballot may appoint 1 poll watcher per polling place
  • Each candidate nominated by petition may appoint 1 poll watcher per polling place
  • Except in primary and general elections, a any person may apply to serve as a poll watcher, except that if more than 3 persons apply for a certain polling place, the county commissioner will decide which 3 applicants may serve as poll watchers

Appointments must be made in writing to the county election commissioner before Election Day.

Candidates, incumbent officeholders, and precinct election officials working in the election cannot serve as poll watchers.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Poll Watcher Handbook [link]

Iowa Code § 49.104 [link]

Iowa Code § 39A.4(1) [link]

*NEW 3* Can a poll observer use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) in the polling place?

State law does not directly address this issue for poll watchers. However, media may photograph or film activity inside the polling place, but cannot take any images of how a voter marked a ballot. Otherwise, local practices may vary.

Source (confirmed on: 10/9/2016)

Iowa Code § 49.104(8) [link]

Iowa Code § 39A.4(1)(a) [link]

Iowa Secretary of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

Are there other rules on what poll observers can or cannot do?

Poll watchers may:

  • Observe the election process
  • Look at the eligibility slips or voter rosters
  • Write down the names of people who have or have not voted
  • Challenge a voter’s qualifications
  • Report perceived problems in the precinct to the county auditor

Poll watchers may not:

  • Handle ballots, voting equipment, or the election register,
  • Encourage challenged voters to cast provisional ballots in precincts where they do not live
  • Engage in arguments with precinct election officials, voters, or other poll watchers,
  • Interrupt, hinder, oppose, or talk to a voter while in line or while the voter is approaching the polling place,
  • Solicit votes for candidates or questions
  • Offer advice or literature to voters
  • Wear buttons, stickers, jewelry, or clothing of a political nature
  • Use polling place supplies.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Poll Watcher Handbook [link]

Provisional Voting and Voters at the Wrong Polling Place

When should a voter be offered a provisional ballot?

Under Section 203 of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, if a person claims to be a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the person desires to vote and the person claims to be eligible to vote in a federal election, but the person’s name does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the polling place or an election official asserts that the person is not eligible to vote, then that person must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at that polling place. The person may cast the provisional ballot after executing, before an election official at the polling place, a written affirmation stating that the person is (1) a registered voter in the jurisdiction, and (2) eligible to vote in that election.

Additionally, any person who votes in a federal election as a result of a federal or state court order, or any other order extending the time established for closing the polls by a state law in effect 10 days before the date of that election, may only vote in that election by casting a provisional ballot. Any such ballot cast must be separated and held apart from other provisional ballots cast for different reasons.

Under state law, a voter should be offered a provisional ballot in the following instances:

  • The voter has not satisfied the voter identification requirement for first-time voters in Iowa who registered to vote by mail
  • The voter's name does not appear on the precinct register, the voter does not present proof of identity, and the county election commissioner cannot confirm to precinct officials that the person is registered to vote in the precinct
  • When a voter cannot prove they are qualified to vote by showing identification when required to do so
  • The voter's qualifications were challenged at the polls and the challenge was not withdrawn
  • The voter is registering to vote and voting at an in-person absentee voting station or at the polls on Election Day, and the voter does not either (1) present proof of identity and residency, or (2) get vouched for by another registered voter in the precinct.
  • If the voter requested an absentee ballot by mail, but for any reason the voter did not received it or has not brought the absentee ballot to the polls, may appear at the voter's precinct polling place on Election Day and, after the precinct election officials confirm the count election commissioner has not received the voter's absentee ballot, the voter may cast a regular ballot at the polls. However, if the precinct election officials cannot confirm whether the commissioner has received the voter's absentee ballot, the voter must cast a provisional ballot.
  • If an absentee voter has been notified by the county election commissioner that they need to complete the absentee ballot affidavit or vote a replacement absentee ballot and who has not completed the affidavit or voted a replacement absentee ballot, the voter may appear at the voter's precinct polling place on Election Day and, after the precinct election officials confirm the voter has not completed the affidavit or voted a replacement ballot, the voter may cast a regular ballot in person at the polls. However, if the precinct election officials are unable to confirm whether the voter has completed the affidavit or voted a replacement ballot, the voter must cast a provisional ballot.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

52 U.S.C. § 21082 (federal law) [link]

Iowa Code § 49.80 [link]

Iowa Code § 53.19(3) [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Iowa Code § 49.77(4) [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.8(4) [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.3(49,48A) [link]

Iowa Code § 49.81 [link]

If a voter casts a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct, will the ballot be counted?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Poll Watcher Handbook, p. 3 (prohibiting poll watchers from disenfranchising voters by telling voters to vote provisional ballots in the wrong precinct) [link]

Following up on a provisional ballot

Voters who did not show required ID must show such ID to the county election commissioner by the date listed on the provisional voter statement they are given. Voters who are challenged may choose to present additional evidence of their eligibility to the county election commissioner by this date as well.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 50.21 [link]

Iowa Code § 50.22 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.11(49) [link]

Finding out if a provisional ballot was counted

If a provisional ballot is rejected, the person casting the ballot must be notified in writing by the county election commissioner within ten days.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 50.22 [link]

Ballot Shortages/Voting Machine Malfunctions

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a polling place runs out of printed ballots? Are handwritten/photocopied ballots allowed?

If there is a ballot shortage, the precinct chairperson must immediately contact the county election commissioner immediately, who will deliver additional ballots to the polling place. If necessary, the commissioner or their designee may photocopy official ballots.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.66 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.67 [link]

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a voting machine breaks or malfunctions?

If a voting machine malfunctions, precinct election officials must immediately inform the county election commissioner and attempt to repair it. If they cannot repair it, county election commissioner will send someone to repair or replace the machine. Precinct election officials should continue to collect optical scan paper ballots from voters during that time and place them in a ballot box.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.85 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.84 [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-22.52(52) [link]

Voter ID and Challenges

Voter ID

Who must show ID to vote?

Any voter who is registering to vote on Election Day must show proof of identity and proof of residency. Additionally, voters who do not appear in the precinct register as active, and voters who have moved from the address at which they registered must show identification.

First-time voters in an Iowa county who registered to vote by mail must also show ID, but their requirements are different. See below question for details.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.8 [link]

Iowa Code § 49.77(3) [link]

Are there any special requirements for first-time voters?

An voter who registered to vote by mail and who has not previously voted in an election for federal office in the county of registration must provide identification documents when voting for the first time in the county, unless the registrant wrote on their voter registration application a valid Iowa driver's license number, an Iowa nonoperator's identification card number, or the last four digits of the person's social security number. If the voter did not do so, then when voting, they must show one of the following forms of ID:

  • A current and valid photo identification card, which is unexpired or, if an Iowa nonoperator's ID card, has an expiration date of ""none""
  • One of the following documents that has the name and address of the applicant: a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document.

If the voter is casting an absentee ballot by mail, they must enclose with their ballot a copy of one of the above forms of ID.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.8 [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.3(49,48A) [link]

What ID is acceptable?

A voter must show proof of their identity and where they live. The proof of ID can count as proof of residency as well if it shows the voter's current address.

Proof of identity includes any of the following documents that show the voter's photograph
* Iowa driver's license
* Iowa non-driver identification card
* Out-of-state driver's license or non-driver identification card
* U.S. passport
* U.S. military ID
* ID card issued by the voter's employer
* Student ID issued by an Iowa high school, college, or university

If the voter presents one of the above forms of ID and that ID does not display their current address, the voter must also show one of the following forms of ID that does show their current address: * Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
* Bank statement
* Paycheck
* Government check
* Other government document

The ID must be unexpired or, if a Iowa non-driver identification card, have an expiration date of ""none.""

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 721-21.3(49,48A) [link]

Is a student ID an acceptable form of identification?

Yes, a photo ID issued to a student by an Iowa college, university, or high school is acceptable proof of identity. However, the voter will probably need to show additional documentation to prove their residency if their student ID does not list their current address.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Does the address on the ID have to match the address at which the voter is registered?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

If a voter has no ID, are there alternatives such as an oath or witness?

Voters registering on Election Day or in person at an absentee voting location may have another registered voter swear to their identity and residency in place of showing ID.

In all other instances in which the voter does not have required ID, the voter may cast a provisional ballot. The voter will be required to show ID to the county election commissioner by the date given on their provisional voter statement, or their provisional ballot will not count.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 50.21 [link]

Iowa Code § 50.22 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

Iowa Code § 49.81 [link]

Do elections without federal offices on the ballot (such as off-year gubernatorial elections) have different ID requirements?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.7A [link]

Challenges to Voters at the Polling Place

Who can challenge a voter at the polling place?

Any precinct official or any registered voter may challenge any voter's right to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.79 [link]

What are the allowed reasons on which a voter can be challenged at the polling place?

A voter can challenged on any of the following grounds:

  • The voter not a citizen of the United States.
  • The voter is younger than 18 years old.
  • The voter does not live at the address where the voter is registered. However, a voter can update their address or register to vote on Election Day, and if they do so, they cannot be challenged on this ground.
  • The voter does not live in the precinct where the person is offering to vote.
  • The voter has given false information on their voter registration application or declaration of eligibility.
  • The voter has been convicted of a felony, and the person's voting rights have not been restored.
  • The voter has been adjudged by a court of law to be a person who is incompetent to vote and that finding has not been reversed
Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.79 [link]

Is there a requirement for the challenger to provide cause or evidence?

No; however, challengers must swear an oath that their challenge is true. Knowingly making a false challenge is illegal.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 49.79 [link]

How does a voter defend their eligibility to vote if they are challenged?

The poll worker will ask the challenged voter questions about their eligibility, and the voter will have the chance to provide proof of their qualifications. After that, the challenger may choose to withdraw their challenge. If not, the challenged voter must vote using a provisional ballot, and they may choose to provide any necessary proof of their qualifications to the county election commissioner by the date printed on their provisional voter statement.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 50.21 [link]

Iowa Code § 50.22 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Election Day FAQ [link]

Iowa Code § 49.79 [link]

State and Local Election Officials

The State Election Authority

Who/what is the state election authority?

Secretary of State, who serves as the State Commissioner of Elections

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 47.1 [link]

Current official

Paul D. Pate

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State's Website [link]

E-mail

sos@sos.iowa.gov

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Contact Us [link]

Phone

General: 515-281-0145

Toll Free: 1-888-SOS-VOTE (1-888-767-8683)

TTY: Call 711 followed by 515-281-0145

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Contact Us [link]

Address

First Floor, Lucas Building
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Contact Us [link]

Local Election Authorities

What local election official(s) are in charge of major state-level elections (such as the even-year November general elections)?

County Auditor, who serves as the County Election Commissioner

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 47.2 [link]

What is the county-level election official?

County Auditor, who serves as the County Election Commissioner

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 47.2 [link]

What is the municipal-level election official?

County Auditor, who serves as the County Election Commissioner, and their designated deputy election commissioner for a particular municipality (if any).

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 47.2(3) [link]

Contact information for local election authorities

Click here.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa County Auditor's List [link]

The Voter File

Voter File Basics

National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Disclosure Law

Section 8 of the federal NVRA requires that each State maintain for at least 2 years and make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters, except to the extent that such records contain information about a person declining to register to vote or information about the identity of a voter registration agency through which a particular voter might have chosen to register.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

52 U.S.C. § 20507 [link]

Acquiring a Voter File

Under state procedure, who may acquire a voter file?

Any person. The request may be made in writing or over the phone. Click here to download a written application.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Admin. Code § 821-3.2(48A) [link]

Iowa Code § 48A.38 [link]

Who is the state-level contact for acquiring a voter file?

Secretary of State

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Sec. of State, Voter Registration List Requests [link]

How much does the state charge for the file?

The statewide voter file costs $0.50 per 1,000 records. If requested on a CD-ROM, an additional $2.00 fee applies, and if requested on paper, an additional $0.10 per page applies. If requested by e-mail, no additional fee applies.

Additionally, requestors can purchase a subscription to receive biweekly updates to the statewide voter file throughout the year for $1500 a year.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.38 [link]

Iowa Sec. of State, Voter Registration List Requests [link]

What format is the file available in?

The file is available in a CSV (Excel) format by e-mail or CD-ROM. It is also available in paper format.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Specifications and Order Form for Voter List [link]

Use of the Voter File

Does the state have restrictions on commercial use of the voter file?

No information from voter registration records may be used for commercial purposes. Such information may be used only for genuine political purposes (including researching a registrant's vote in an election and any research, advocacy, or education relating to the election, administration, or governance of public policies or officials), bona fide political research, or for a bona fide official purpose by an elected official.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.39 [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 821-3.2(48A) [link]

Does the state have restrictions on non-commercial use of the voter file?

Information from voter registration records may be used only for genuine political purposes (including researching a registrant's vote in an election and any research, advocacy, or education relating to the election, administration, or governance of public policies or officials), bona fide political research, or for a bona fide official purpose by an elected official.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-07-25)

Iowa Code § 48A.39 [link]

Iowa Admin. Code § 821-3.2(48A) [link]