Early in-person and mail-in voting will soon begin in Iowa for the 2022 midterm elections.
Among the hotly-contested races this election season, Democrat Mike Franken is challenging incumbent Senator Chuck Grassley, who is seeking reelection for his eighth term in the U.S. Senate. In Iowa’s third congressional district, which encompasses Des Moines, Republican nominee Zach Nunn will face off against incumbent U.S. Representative Cindy Axne. And Republican Governor Kim Reynolds will face a challenge from Democrat Deidre DeJear and Libertarian Rick Stewart as she seeks her second full term as Iowa governor.
Here’s what Iowans need to know ahead of the Nov. 8 election, including how to register and vote early.
Check your voter registration status
For those eligible to vote in Iowa, check your voter registration status on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.
If any changes have been made to your name, address or political party affiliation since you last registered to vote, you will need to update your voter registration.
To register to vote in Iowa, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be an Iowa resident.
- Be at least 17 years old as long as you will turn 18 on or before election day.
- Not be judged mentally incompetent to vote by a court.
- Not claim the right to vote in any other place.
Iowa offers same-day voter registration, which lets people register at the polls when they go to vote. To register at the polls, you must provide proof of identity and Iowa residency.
Valid forms of ID include:
- Iowa driver’s license
- Iowa non-driver ID card
- Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card
- U.S. passport
- U.S. military or veteran ID
- ID card issued by an employer
- Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
- Tribal ID
Separate proof of residency is only required if your ID does not contain your current Iowa address.
Valid proof of residency includes:
- Residential lease
- Utility or cellphone bill
- Bank statement
- Government check or other government document
- Property tax statement
If you are not able to prove your identity with any of the documents, a registered voter in your precinct can attest to who you are. Both you and the attester will need to sign an oath that what you say is true. Falsely attesting or falsely attesting for someone else is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
When and where to vote early in Iowa
Due to recent changes in Iowa voting laws, the absentee voting window for this election is shorter than the 2020 general election.
The new law shortened the in-person absentee voting period to 20 days before Election Day, rather than the 29 days previously allocated for early voting. In-person absentee voting will start on Oct. 19 and end Nov. 7.
Iowans can vote early by mail or in person at their county auditor’s office during business hours. County auditors may also set up satellite voting locations, but only if petitioned to do so by residents.
To find where in-person early voting will be offered in your county, call your county auditor or go to their website.
Iowa also offers curbside voting that allows voters to cast their ballot from their car if they are unable to enter the polling place due to a disability. If curbside voting is requested, two precinct election officials will bring a ballot to the voter’s car where the voter can fill it out.
How to request an absentee ballot in Iowa
To request an absentee ballot by mail, download the request form from the Iowa Secretary of State’s website or call your county auditor’s office. The county auditor will mail your ballot with instructions on how to complete and return it.
The deadline to receive voters’ absentee ballot request forms is shorter than in prior years. County auditors must receive voters’ absentee ballot request forms at least 15 days prior to Election Day – no later than Oct. 25 – a change from 10 days in years past.
These ballots can be returned either by mail or in person at your county auditor’s office.
Iowans can track the status of their absentee ballot request on the secretary of state’s website at sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus.
Who can return my absentee ballot?
Under Iowa’s new voting law, only the voter, an immediate family member, household member or caregiver may return a person’s ballot to the auditor’s office or place it in the mail.
Previously, anyone the voter designated could deliver the ballot on the voter’s behalf. The new law makes this a serious misdemeanor.
There are exceptions for those with disabilities, who may designate a delivery agent to mail or drop off their ballot on their behalf.
The delivery agent must be a registered Iowa voter and cannot be the individual’s employer, a member of the voter’s union or an agent of a political party, candidate or committee. The delivery agent will be asked to sign paperwork and swear to follow the law. Each delivery agent may return just two absentee ballots per election.
When do mail-in ballots need to be received?
Due to Iowa’s new voting law, all mail-in ballots must be received by the county auditor by the time polls close on Election Day to count.
Previously, ballots mailed the day before Election Day would be counted as long as they were received by noon the following Monday.
There are two exceptions to the new law. Votes by military personnel and overseas citizens will be counted as long as their ballots arrive by noon the following Monday. Votes by participants in the Safe at Home program for domestic abuse survivors will also count as long as they are received by noon on the Monday after Election Day.
When and where to vote on Election Day
Poll hours have been shortened by one hour this year. Polls will still open at 7 a.m. but will now close at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. as in previous election cycles.
Look up your polling place on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.
What if I’m a college student who’s not an Iowa resident?
If you would like to register to vote or request an absentee ballot in your home state, visit the secretary of state’s website for your state. Voting information for some of the most common home states of Drake students can be found below.