Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Voter Registration

What are Iowa’s eligibility requirements for voter registration and voting purposes?

To register and vote in Iowa, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen,
  • An Iowa resident, and
  • At least 17 1/2 years old (must be 18 years old by election day to vote).

You cannot:

  • Be a convicted felon (unless your voting rights have been restored),
  • Be judged mentally incompetent to vote by a court, and/or
  • Claim the right to vote in any other place.

How do I determine my residence for voting purposes?

Your residence for voting purposes is where your home is located. You can only declare one residence for voting purposes.

If you are temporarily away from your home, you do not lose residency for voting purposes.

U.S. citizens living abroad may register and vote in Iowa if they or their parents were eligible electors of Iowa just before leaving the U.S. This includes citizens who were not old enough to register to vote at the time they left the country. The last residence in Iowa should be used for voter registration purposes in this instance.

Why do I need to provide an exact address for voting purposes?

Your local county auditor needs an exact residence address in order to determine which offices and public measures you are eligible to vote for. Listing only a post office box does not qualify as providing an exact address.

If I have moved, how do I update my residential or mailing address?

To update your residential or mailing address, complete, sign, and submit a new federal postcard application (FPCA) to your county auditor.

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Voter Identification

Do I need to provide identification to register to vote or request a ballot?

Please provide on the federal postcard application (FPCA) your:

  • Iowa driver’s license number,
  • Iowa non-operator ID, or
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number.

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Deadlines

What is the deadline for voter registration?

Voter registration deadlines do not apply to military and overseas voters.

What is the deadline to request an absentee ballot?

To receive your absentee ballot by mail, your request must be received in the county auditor’s office by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election.

Request your ballot early to ensure you receive it early enough to return it on time. If you are unsure if you will receive your ballot on time, you may ask the county auditor to email or fax your ballot to you.

To receive your absentee ballot by email or fax, your request must be received in the county auditor’s office by the close of business on the Monday before the election.

If your request is received so late that it is unlikely the absentee ballot can be returned by mail in time to be considered for counting, the county auditor will enclose a statement to that effect with the absentee ballot.

What is the return deadline for a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB)?

For more information on voting a federal write-in ballot (FWAB), see our section on Absentee Voting Alternatives.

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Absentee Voting

When are absentee ballots available?

Absentee ballots for military/UOCAVA voters are available no later than 45 days before federal elections. Ballots for local elections will be available as soon as possible before the election.

Do I need to complete a federal postcard application (FPCA) or absentee ballot request for each individual election?

The FPCA is honored for only the federal election(s) held during the calendar year in which you submitted your FPCA. If you would like ballots for all elections, make sure to indicate that on your FPCA.

What if I move after I requested a ballot but before I receive it?

Absentee ballots are not sent by forwardable mail. You should contact your county auditor as soon as possible after you have moved and provide them with your new address. The county auditor will send you a ballot at your new address.

What is a federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB)?

For more information on voting a federal write-in ballot (FWAB), see our section on Absentee Voting Alternatives.

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Primaries

What is the primary election?

The primary election is a nomination process used for the Democratic and Republican parties. Candidates selected by voters at the primary election advance to the general election ballot.

When is Iowa's primary election held?

Iowa’s primary election is held in June of each even-numbered year.

The corresponding general election is held in November of each even-numbered year.

Do I have to be registered with a political party to vote in the primary election?

Yes. Iowa has a closed primary election, which means voters must be registered with either the Democratic or Republican Party to participate. Voters can change their party affiliation anytime before election day or at the polling place on election day.

To change your party affiliation, you can complete, sign, and submit a new federal postcard application (FPCA).

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