- Does Iowa have term limits?
- Do I have to file papers to be a write-in candidate?
- Can I run for a state or federal office if I'm not affiliated with a political party or a non-party political organization (NPPO)?
- What occurs if the election results in a tie?
- Where can I obtain nomination papers? Where do I file nomination papers?
- What are the filing deadlines? Is there a filing fee for filing nomination papers?
- Who may sign my nomination petition?
- Can I sign my own nomination petition?
- Do my nomination papers have to be notarized?
Iowa does not have term limits.
In Iowa, you do not need to file nomination papers or declarations of intent to be a write-in candidate.
Can I run for a state or federal office if I'm not affiliated with a political party or a non-party political organization (NPPO)?
Yes, but not until the General Election. The only partisan elections in Iowa are the primary and general elections. The Primary Election is held to nominate political party candidates to the General Election ballot; therefore, candidates not affiliated with either political party cannot participate in the Primary Election.
Unaffiliated Candidates – Nominated by Petition
Although most candidates circulate nomination petitions at some point, candidates who are "Nominated by Petition" have no party or NPPO affiliation. Candidates who have no affiliation must note that on their nomination papers (candidate's affidavit and petition pages) by writing "Nominated by Petition" in the space provided for party affiliation or by leaving that space blank. The words "Nominated by Petition" will follow the name of the candidate on the ballot.
Important Note: Writing "Independent" on candidate nomination papers does NOT mean the candidate is independent of party affiliation. Rather, when a candidate uses the word "Independent" on nomination papers, the candidate is saying that the candidate is affiliated with the Independent NPPO. As a result, the word "Independent" will follow the candidate's name on the ballot.
Non-Party Political Organization (NPPO) Candidates
Iowa law calls a political organization not meeting the requirements to become a party a non-party political organization (NPPO). There are many NPPOs. NPPOs do not need to file any special paperwork to be officially recognized by the State. NPPOs may nominate one candidate for each partisan office. Candidates affiliated with an NPPO may be nominated in one of two ways:
- By circulating nomination petitions. (This is the most common method.)
- By holding a nominating convention.
Generally, when a tie occurs between two candidates, lots are drawn (i.e. a name is pulled out of a hat) to determine the winner.
If there is a tie vote for a public measure, lots are not drawn. The measure fails.
Nomination papers are available at the Secretary of State's Office and on its website. They are also available at county auditors' offices.
Nomination papers for federal and state offices must be filed with the Secretary of State's Office.
Nomination papers for county offices must be filed in the county auditor's office.
Nomination papers for school elections are filed with the appropriate school secretary.
Nomination papers for city offices are filed in the appropriate city clerk's office.
There are no candidate filing fees in Iowa.
Candidate Filing Deadlines for Regulary Scheduled Elections
|Election||Election Date||Candidate Filing Period|
|School||September 13||July 11 – August 4|
|City Primary||October 11||August 15 – September 1|
|Regular City||November 8||August 29 – September 22|
|Election||Election Date||Candidate Filing Period|
|Primary||June 5||State and Federal Offices: February 27 – March 16
County Offices: March 5 – March 28
|General||November 6||State and Federal Offices: July 30 – August 17
County Offices: August 6 – August 29
Eligible electors of the appropriate county, district, or ward (as applicable) may sign nomination petitions.
For example, any eligible elector in Iowa may sign a petition for a statewide office (i.e. State Executive Office, United States Senate) because those races will appear on every ballot in the state.
However, for all other races, petitions may only be signed by those eligible electors in the county or district. For example, the signature of an eligible elector from County A who signed the nomination petition for a county treasurer candidate from County B cannot be counted because that elector is not eligible to vote for that candidate.
There is no limit on the number of nomination petitions one elector may sign.
An eligible elector is a person who meets all of the qualifications to register to vote. However, an eligible elector is not required to be a registered voter.
An eligible elector must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a resident of Iowa
- At least 17 ½ years old (must be 18 years old by Election Day to vote or sign petitions)
An eligible elector may not:
- Be a convicted felon (unless the felon's voting rights have been restored by the president or governor)
- Be currently judged incompetent to vote by a court
- Claim the right to vote in any other place
You may sign your own nomination papers if you are an eligible elector at the time.
A candidate's affidavit of candidacy must be notarized. Nomination petitions do not need to be notarized.