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11/24/2014
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Voting and Elections
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If you have any questions about voting, please feel free to contact the Secretary of State’s office at 1-888-SOS-VOTE, TDD 1-515-281-5781, or visit http://www.sos.state.ia.us.

Requirements
You may register to vote in Iowa if you are eighteen years of age or you are six months shy of your eighteenth birthday. You may register to vote by personally submitting a completed voter registration form to the commissioner of registration or a deputy commissioner in your county. If you are six months shy of your eighteenth birthday then the registration official will maintain your registration until you reach the age of eighteen. The commissioner of registration designates registration places throughout your city and county. Check with your local county clerk, auditor, or board of supervisor’s to find out where you should register. Prior to an election there should be a registration place at the county courthouse. Registration officials may also visit your high school or university. Within five days after you register, you should receive a receipt of registration in the mail.

The registration form will ask you to complete the following information
  • Name of applicant
  • Residence address
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Date of registration
  • Ward, precinct, and school district (the registration official will assist you with this information)
  • Name given on last registration
  • Party affiliation
  • Certification that you are a citizen of the United States and are eligible to vote
  • Social Security number
  • Signature of applicant
  • Telephone number
You must register to vote ten days before a general or primary election and eleven days before all other elections. Once you register your registration will last until one of the following occur:
  • You fail to vote at least once in the last preceding four calendar years
  • You register in another place
  • You are convicted of a felony
  • You have been found legally incompetent by a court, you are severely or profoundly mentally retarded or you are under a guardianship or conservatorship
  • You send written notice to cancel your registration
Where to Vote
You must vote in the precinct where you live. A list of precinct polling places and a sample ballot are printed in local newspapers before each election. You can call your county auditor to find out when the list of precinct polling places and sample ballots will be printed. Your county auditor can tell you where you go to vote.

Absentee Ballots
Any registered voter may, subject to the provisions below, vote absentee at any election by applying to your commissioner for an absentee ballot. Iowa's provisions that allow you to vote absentee are these:
  • When you expect that on Election Day, you will be absent from your precinct during the time period in which the polls are open
  • When, through illness or physical disability, you expect to be prevented from going to the polls and voting on Election Day
  • When you expect to be unable to go to the polls and vote on Election Day
You may apply for an absentee ballot on any day, except Election Day, and not more than seventy days prior to the date of the election. The application for an absentee ballot shall contain the address where you are qualified to vote, the date of the election in which you wish to vote and any other information necessary to properly complete your absentee ballot. Upon receiving the application for an absentee ballot, the commissioner shall mail an absentee ballot within 24 hours. The voter shall then return the ballot in a sealed envelope. In order to be counted the absentee ballot must be postmarked not later than the day before the election and received by the commissioner not later than noon on the Monday following the election.

Mandatory Return
Please keep in mind that if you apply for an absentee ballot you must return it and cast your vote in the manner provided. If you willfully refuse or neglect to return your ballot you will have committed a simple misdemeanor.

Powers of Attorney
A person who has been designated to have power of attorney by a registered voter does not have the authority to request or to cast an absentee ballot on behalf of the registered voter.

The Iowa State Bar Association • 625 East Court Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309
Ph. (515) 243-3179 • Fax (515) 243-2511
Email: isba@iowabar.org