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Iowa's Local, School Races Mark First Statewide Election With Fully Enforced Voter ID Law

voter ID card
Iowa Secretary of State
These voter ID cards are one of several accepted forms of ID under Iowa's new voting law.

Iowa voters will go to the polls Tuesday for local and school elections, marking the first statewide election for which Iowa’s new voter ID law is in full effect.

Iowans voting in person on Tuesday, Nov. 5, should bring an Iowa driver’s license, Iowa non-operator ID, military or veteran ID, U.S. passport, tribal ID, or state-issued voter identification card to the polls.

Voter identification cards, which are on white paper and require the voter’s signature, were automatically mailed to registered voters who don’t have an Iowa driver’s license or state ID. Any registered voter who does not have this voter card and wishes to use one can contact their county auditor.

A registered voter who gets to the polls on Election Day without an accepted form of ID can vote if another registered voter from the same precinct attests to the person’s identity and residence by signing an oath.

Voters without proper ID can also cast a provisional ballot, but may have to provide additional information to election authorities in the days following Election Day in order for their vote to be counted.

Polls are open to from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5.

Voting early in person or by mail

Iowans voting early (before Nov. 5) in person or by mail do not technically need an ID following a recent court ruling. 

There’s a space for an ID number or voter PIN on the absentee ballot request, but county auditors are supposed to help fill in that information if a voter does not have it. It is a possibility that different counties will handle this issue in different ways. 

“They should be prepared to put something together for an ID,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. “It’s a little confusing, so I just suggest to be safe about it they should have their ID with them.”

Early in-person voting ends Monday, Nov. 4, at 5:00 p.m.

Iowans can still mail their absentee ballots Monday, Nov. 4, but there is no guarantee the ballot will be postmarked in time for the midnight deadline. Voters who have not yet mailed their ballot and are concerned about this can surrender their ballot at their polling place on Election Day and vote in person.

Voter registration

“Voter registration has not changed,” Pate said. “It’s still exactly the same as it was before. And that requires some means of identifying who you are and also to be able to identify your residency address.”

Iowans who are not yet registered to vote can register at their polling place on Election Day by bringing a driver’s license or state ID from any state, a U.S. passport, military ID, employee ID (with an expiration date), Iowa student ID (with an expiration date) or tribal ID.

If the chosen ID does not have the voter’s current address, the voter should also bring proof of current residence in the form of a residential lease, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government document. Digital documents displayed on a mobile device are accepted, according to Pate.

This combination of documents accepted for same-day voter registration can also be used in place of voter ID. 

Newly combined elections

A law change also means this is the first time school and local elections are being held at the same time.

Pate said he hopes combining these races will boost voter turnout. It typically fails to exceed 15 percent for local elections.

“Long term, we should be up there at 50 percent or more,” Pate said. “Our schools and our cities are very important when you look at the role and impact they have on education decisions and all the local services.”