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Iowans Can Vote Early Through Monday Nov. 2. Here's What You Should Know

Element5 Digital
Iowa voters can cast ballots early by mail, vote early at their county auditor's office (or satellite location in some counties) or vote in-person on Election Day.

Iowa’s early voting period began Monday, Oct. 5. That’s the day Iowans could start voting in person at their county auditor’s office, and possibly additional “satellite” early voting locations in their county. It’s also the day county auditors started mailing absentee ballots to voters who requested them. Early in-person voting continues until 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.

Iowans can vote for president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, state lawmakers and county officials. On the back of the ballot, voters can choose to retain or remove judges.

Find more details here about getting registered to vote and updating your registration if you’ve moved.

Voting early in person

Every county auditor’s office will be open for in-person early voting Oct. 5 through Nov. 2. Additional early voting locations may be available in your county, and you can find more information on your county auditor’s website or social media, or by calling their office. Find your county auditor here.

Some counties will have fewer or different early voting locations compared to past elections because of concerns about COVID-19.

voter ID card
Iowa Secretary of State

Iowa has a voter ID law. Bring one of these to vote:

  • Iowa Driver’s License
  • Iowa Non-Operator ID
  • Iowa Voter Identification Card (request one from your county auditor if you need it)
  • Military ID or Veteran ID
  • U.S. Passport
  • Tribal ID Card/Document

If your ID expired in 2020, you may use it to vote in this election.

If your voter registration is updated with your current address, your ID does not have to reflect your current address. If you don’t have any of these forms of ID when you go to vote early in person or on Election Day, you can bring Election Day registration documents or have another voter registered in the precinct attest to your identity. If you don’t have any of those with you, you can vote a provisional ballot and come back later to provide ID or necessary documents to get your ballot counted.

Iowans can register to vote online, at their early voting location, or at their polling place on Election Day. Requirements for in-person voter registration change after Oct. 24.

Voting by mail: how to make sure your ballot is counted

To vote by mail, you have to request a ballot. Your ballot request form must be received by your county auditor by 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. Find detailed information about requesting a ballot here.

When you receive a ballot from your county auditor starting Oct. 5, follow all the instructions that come with the ballot to make sure your vote is counted.

“The number one mistake that people make in returning their ballot is they forget to sign them,” said Roxanna Moritz, president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors. “So it’s really important that you sign it and date it, and that you seal it.”

Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald said voters should take their time filling out their ballot, and voters aren’t required to vote in every race.

“Once you vote your ballot, we want you to put it in your secrecy sleeve, and then put it in your affidavit (outer envelope), make sure you seal that affidavit and sign it,” Fitzgerald said.

You can mail your voted ballot back to your county auditor. It has to be postmarked by Nov. 2, and then it has to arrive at your county auditor’s office by noon on Nov. 9 to be counted. Election officials are encouraging voters to mail their ballots well ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline.

Voters may also choose to deliver their ballot to their county auditor’s office. That has to be done by the time polls close on Election Day. Some counties have a dropbox outside their auditor’s office for ballots.

You can check the secretary of state’s website to see what date your ballot is mailed to you, and what date it’s received by your county auditor.

For voters who forget to sign their ballot or make another technical mistake, their county auditor will send them a letter within 24 hours notifying them of next steps for fixing it if it arrived before Election Day. These are the options:

  1. Voters can go to their county auditor’s office to fix the issue with their ballot before 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.
  2. Voters can ask the county auditor to invalidate the ballot and send them a new one.
  3. Voters can ask the county auditor to invalidate the ballot and then vote in person early or on Election Day.

Voting in person on Election Day, Nov. 3, will also be an option. Your polling place may be different from last year, so check your county auditor’s website or call them to make sure you’re going to the right location.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter