En español | Iowa's Nov. 8 general election includes races for U.S. House and Senate, state House and Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and several other state offices. The state’s primary was June 7.
- Absentee voting: All registered voters can request an absentee ballot and vote from home for November’s general election.
- Early in-person voting: Iowa offers in-person absentee voting starting Wednesday, Oct. 19, and ending Monday, Nov. 7.
- In-person voting on Election Day: The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What's new this year?
A new state law introduced in 2021 has changed voting in Iowa, including:
- The early voting period now starts 20 days, instead of 29 days, before Election Day
- Polls close at 8 p.m. for the general election instead of 9 p.m.
- County auditors must receive absentee ballot request forms 15 days, instead of 11 days, before Election Day
- Voters must request an absentee ballot application form; county auditors cannot proactively mail them out anymore
- All absentee ballots must arrive at the county auditor’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, instead of by noon the Monday following Election Day
- Only the voter, an immediate family member, household member, caregiver or a “delivery agent” may return absentee ballots
- Counties are only allowed one drop box for returning absentee ballots
Some of the changes are currently being challenged in the courts. Also, new redistricting has changed the boundaries of some state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect where you vote, and which candidates appear on your ballot.
What races are on the ballot?
- U.S. Senate: 1 seat; Michael Franken (D), Incumbent Chuck Grassley (R)
- U.S. House: all four seats
- State Senate: 34 of 50 seats
- State House: all 100 seats
- Governor: Deidre DeJear (D), Incumbent Kim Reynolds (R)
- Lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor of state and secretary of agriculture
How do I register to vote?
- Online: Use the state’s voter registration portal to register, check your registration status or change your address or party affiliation. The deadline to register for the general election is Monday, Oct. 24. (If you don’t register by then, you can register in person on Election Day or register and cast an absentee ballot at the same time between the deadline and Election Day.)
- By mail: Print out a voter registration form from the secretary of state’s website, complete it and mail it to your county auditor.
- In person: Go to your county auditor's office. Or you can attend a voter registration drive or visit certain government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, Health Services or Economic Security.
Iowans can also register to vote on Election Day at your county polling place. At the polling place, you must present an acceptable form of ID and proof of residence. If you don’t have sufficient documentation, another registered voter who lives in the same precinct may attest to your identity and residence.
You can check if you are registered to vote through the state's voter portal or your county auditor’s office.
How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?
In order to vote absentee in November’s general election, registered voters must request an absentee ballot through their county auditor. You can get a request form:
- Online: Download one from the secretary of state’s website.
- In person: Visit your county auditor’s office.
- By mail: Call your county auditor’s office or the secretary of state’s office at 515-281-0145.
You can submit your request for a mail-in absentee ballot no earlier than Tuesday, Aug. 30. Return your request form to your county auditor’s office no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24. If you miss the deadlines, you can complete an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office up until Election Day.
How do I submit an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?
Once your absentee ballot request form is received, the county auditor will mail you your absentee ballot with instructions on how to mark and return it. You can return your completed absentee ballot to your county auditor’s office:
- By mail: Absentee ballots must be received by the county auditor by 8 p.m. on Election Day, regardless of when they’re postmarked. You can track the status of your absentee ballot on the secretary of state’s website or call your county auditor’s office.
- In person: Absentee ballots must be received by your county auditor's office by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. Note that the availability of drop boxes for absentee ballots varies from county to county, but each county is only allowed one and it must be located at or in the immediate vicinity of the county auditor’s office.
- Via an immediate family member, household member or caregiver: Those who turn in another’s ballot must fill out a form to verify their identity and present that form when they turn in the ballot.
There are exceptions for those with blindness or other disability, who may ask a “delivery agent” to deliver their ballot. Delivery agents must be registered voters, provide ID to the county auditor, swear to follow the law, and return the ballot in person to the county auditor, not via mail or a drop box.
If you got an absentee ballot but instead want to vote at the polls on Election Day, you must “surrender,” or give back, your absentee ballot at the polls. If you are unable to surrender it, you can cast a provisional ballot at the polls instead.
What is a provisional ballot?
A provisional ballot is for voters who:
- Can't prove they’re eligible to vote
- Requested absentee ballots but did not surrender them at the polls
- Have their eligibility to vote challenged
For example, if your name doesn’t appear on the list of registered voters at the polls, or if you don’t have the correct ID, you can cast a provisional ballot.
But you must “cure” your provisional ballot in order for it to be counted. This means providing evidence of your voting eligibility by the time of the county canvass of votes, which is 12 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14. Before you leave the polls on Election Day, you should be given a written notice explaining these requirements.
Can I vote in person before Election Day?
Yes, via an absentee ballot. You can request and submit an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office starting Wednesday, Oct. 19. In-person absentee voting ends the day before Election Day.
Note that for in-person absentee voting, you are required to fill out an absentee ballot request form and provide ID, just like you would on Election Day.
What if I need assistance casting my vote?
For absentee voting, disabled voters can ask any registered Iowa voter to help them deliver their ballot. Those who turn in another’s ballot must fill out a form to verify their identity and present that form when they turn in the ballot.
For voting on Election Day, Iowa law requires all polling places to be accessible to all voters. Each polling place has a special voting device with elements, such as a touch screen or audio component, that helps disabled voters complete their ballots. You can also have someone assist you, as long as they are not your employer, your employer’s agent or an officer/agent of your union. Precinct election officials (PEOs) will also be on site to assist. You will be asked to sign a form showing you asked for help. If you are not physically able to sign the forms, you can use a rubber stamp or mark to sign.
If you are unable to enter the building of your polling place because of a disability, you can also vote curbside. Precinct election officials will bring voting materials to you in your car. Note that when a voter requests assistance from precinct election officials, two — one from each political party — always assist if the election is the primary, general or any other partisan special election.
When is Election Day? When are the polls open?
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit the state’s online Find You Precinct/Polling Place portal to find where you need to cast your vote.
Do I need identification to vote?
Yes. Iowa voters are required to show an Iowa driver’s license or nonoperator ID, U.S. passport or another acceptable ID at the polls before they vote.
A voter without ID may have the voter’s identity attested to by another registered voter in the precinct. Both you and the attester will be required to sign an oath swearing the statements being made are true.
Voters without ID or an attester can submit a provisional ballot.
Editor’s note: This guide was updated on June 28, 2022, with information on who can submit an absentee ballot. The guide was first published on July 22, 2020.