Your doorbell and phone are ringing nonstop. You’re receiving lots of mail, and the ads are constantly running on TV, radio, and social media. This can only mean one thing: election season is upon us! It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 mid-term elections will happen in a few short weeks. The mid-terms usually don’t get as much attention as the Presidential elections, but they are extremely important in shaping the direction of our federal, state, and local government.
Here are some things you need to know before you vote:
How to Register to Vote
To qualify to register to vote, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
An Iowa resident
At least 17 1/2 years old (must be 18 years old by election day to vote.)
Same-day voter registration is also available. If you plan to register on election day, you will need to find the correct polling place for your current address. (If you are unsure of your polling place, you can find it here.) You will need to show proof of identity and residence. The simplest way to do this is with a valid Iowa driver’s license with your current address printed on it.
If you do not have an Iowa driver’s license, you may use a different photo ID that is current, valid, and contains an expiration date.
The following types of IDs are acceptable:
- Iowa non-driver ID card
- Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card
- U.S. passport
- U.S. military ID
- ID card issued by employer
- Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
- Tribal ID
If your photo ID does not contain your current address, you may use another document to prove where you live if it contains your name and current address.
The following are acceptable proofs of residence:
- Residential lease
- Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
- Bank statement
- Government check or other government document
If you cannot prove identity and current residence with the types of documents listed above, a registered voter from your precinct may attest for you. Both you and the attester will need to sign an oath swearing the statements being made are true.
You will need to update your registration whenever you move, change your name, or change your political affiliation.
Voter ID and Loss of Straight Party Voting
Two big changes have taken place since the 2016 Presidential election: Iowa passed a voter ID law, and straight party voting is no longer an option.
The recent changes to the state’s Voter ID law do not go into effect until January 1, 2019. Although you do not need an ID to vote in this upcoming election, you may still be asked to show an ID. (Some poll workers are doing this to get voters in the habit of showing their ID before the law goes into effect.) Since the ID is not required for this election, anyone who does not have the necessary ID will be asked to sign an oath verifying their identity and will still be allowed to cast a regular ballot.
Even though an ID is not required to vote in this election, it’s wise to have your ID ready to kept lines moving. Since straight party voting is no longer an option, voters will need to fill out every part of their ballot as they desire. Loss of straight-ticket voting means that it will take longer for people to fill out their ballots, so if you vote on election day be prepared to wait in line. Or, better yet, make a plan to vote early and avoid the lines on Election Day.
Early Voting and Vote by Mail
Early voting is now available at the Johnson County Auditor’s office (913 S. Dubuque St.) weekdays between 7:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Some other important early voting dates and information:
Saturday, October 27:
Voter pre-registration deadline, 5 p.m. Registration is still possible after this date using the same-day registration procedure outlined above.
October 27th is also the last day to request mailed absentee ballot. Your request must be in the auditor’s office by 5 p.m. If you miss this deadline but still want to vote early, don’t worry. In person early voting is still available after this date.
Monday, November 5:
Postmark deadline for mailed absentee ballots. Ballots may be returned in person to the auditor’s office until the polls close November 6.
Tuesday, November 6:
Election Day. Polls open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Vote at regular polling places.
Several satellite voting locations will be available prior to the November 6th date. You can view the complete list here.
If you have any questions about registration, early voting, or same-day voting, you can contact the Johnson County Auditor’s Office. The Iowa Secretary of State’s website is another great resource if you have additional questions.