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A Guide For Iowans: Who's Running To Represent You In Congress

The general election is November 3. The Iowa Secretary of State is recommending Iowans vote by mail or vote early in-person, which you can do now.

Amid unrest and disaster here in Iowa, we face dueling health and economic crises as we approach the November election. If you are old enough to vote and able to register, it is a very important time to be engaged.

If you've not voted in Iowa or haven't voted in a while and want to, the first thing you need to do is check to see if you are registered or get registered. You should also update your voter registrationif your name, address or party affiliation has changed.

Voting in November

If you are registered to vote in Iowa, you might receive multiple absentee ballot request forms from different sources ahead of the November election. That is not a problem, and it may be increasingly common as voting by mail is encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic. Just pick one form, and make sure it requires the same information as the image above and that the return envelope is addressed to your county auditor.

  1. Fill out one of the request forms Find one here.
  2. Find your county auditor's address.
  3. Mail your absentee ballot request to your county auditor.
  4. Wait for your ballot to arrive after they start getting mailed out on Oct. 5. You can track your ballot here.
  5. Complete your ballot once you receive it and mail it back to your county auditor right away.

In order to vote by mail in Iowa, you must submit a written application for a mailed absentee ballot, which must be received by your county auditor's office no later than 5 p.m. 10 days before the General Election. The general election is November 3, and your request must be received by your county auditor by 5 p.m. Saturday, October 24.

Voting in person is also an option Oct. 5 through Election Day, Nov. 3. Contact your county auditor to get details about voting early in person. On Election Day, Nov. 3, some polling place locations may be different from past years because of the coronavirus pandemic. Find your polling place here.

Who's running to represent Iowans in Congress?

In Iowa's 1st Congressional District, the two major party candidates are incumbent U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenhauer (D) and Ashley Hinson (R). In a recent Iowa PBS debate, they disagreed over changes in the Postal Service, union bargaining rights and the federal minimum wage.

In Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, Rita Hart (R) is running against State Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (D).

In Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, David Young (R) is challenging U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (D).

In Iowa's 4th Congressional District, Iowa Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) is running against J.D. Scholten (D).

Iowa’s Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is fighting to hang onto her seat as Democrats see it as a potential pick up in the U.S. Senate. Her Democratic challenger is real estate executive Theresa Greenfield. This is a much-watched, high-dollar race.

Ernst won her seat by nearly 9 points six years ago, but recent polls show her in a much closer contest this time around. Iowa has emerged as a COVID-19 hotspot in recent weeks, and Ernst has come under fire for repeating a debunked conspiracy theory downplaying the severity of the pandemic.

Constitutional Convention Question

This year, there’s a question on the ballot in Iowa that asks voters if they think there should be a constitutional convention.

This question appears on the ballot every 10 years. It reads, “Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?” And the voter can choose “yes” or “no.”

Todd Pettys, a law professor at the University of Iowa, said once the convention delegates are chosen, they can propose any changes they want to the Iowa Constitution.

“If you’re at all risk averse, the idea of a constitutional convention should be a really frightening thing,” Pettys said. “It’s really the appropriate thing to do only if you think the system is fundamentally broken and needs to be changed in lots of ways.”

He said voters asked for a constitutional convention in 1920, but the legislature refused to hold one.

Iowa Supreme Court Retention

In Iowa, judges are appointed by the governor. While they are not elected, newly appointed judges must stand for a retention vote to remain on the court after they’ve served at least one year on the bench. Judges must also stand for retention votes when their terms are set to expire.

The terms for four of Iowa's seven Supreme Court justices expire December 31, 2020. The retention vote is a Yes/No question on the general election ballot. Each justice is separately voted for. A "Yes" vote affirms a voter's intent that they continue to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court. Their new term would be for eight years.

The Iowa Supreme Court justices on the ballot this year are Chief Justice Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, Christopher McDonald and Thomas Waterman. Both Mansfield and Waterman were appointed by former Gov. Terry Branstand, and Christensen and McDonald were appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Katarina Sostaric
Katarina Sostaric is an Iowa City based reporter covering Eastern Iowa for Iowa Public Radio.