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What you need to know about the 2018 General Election

A game of scrabble spelling out the word "vote"

You may also download a printable PDF copy of this fact sheet by clicking here.

WHEN IS ELECTION DAY? Tuesday, November 6, 2018

WHEN DO POLLS OPEN AND WHERE CAN I FIND MY POLLING PLACE? Polls will be open statewide from 7am – 9pm. To find your polling place, visit the Iowa Secretary of State website by clicking here. If you need a ride to your polling place, call the interactive voice response service for “Carpool Vote” at (804) 424-5335 or click here. DART in the Des Moines Metro is also offering FREE rides to polling locations, and can be contacted at (515) 283-8100 for more information. The ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft will also offer discounted pricing for rides to the polls.

WHEN CAN I VOTE? You can vote in-person anytime between now and November 6 at your county auditor’s office. To find your county auditor, click here. Children are allowed in voting booths as long as adults are with them. If you have already received your absentee ballot, it must be at the post office before they close on November 5 in order to be counted. You can also hand-deliver your filled-out absentee ballot to the county auditor’s office before the polls close on Election Day. If you have an absentee ballot but want to vote in-person at the polls instead, you can hand over your absentee ballot and vote on a regular ballot.

WHAT DO I NEED IN ORDER TO VOTE? Voter ID rules have recently changed in Iowa, which means that polling place officials will ask voters for some form of identification. Valid forms of voter identification include:

  • Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID card

  • U.S. passport

  • U.S. military ID or veteran ID

  • Out-of-state ID with proof of residency (utility bill, bank statement, car registration, etc.)

  • ID card issued by an employer, Iowa high school, or college if it has an expiration date

  • Tribal ID card

If you have changed your name, address, or party affiliation, you will have to update your voter registration.

I’M NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE. CAN I STILL REGISTER TO VOTE? Iowa offers same-day registration at all polling places. In order to register to vote at your polling place, you will need a current photo ID (this can be a valid out-of-state ID as well) and proof of residency (utility bill, bank statement, car registration, etc.). A registered voter who lives in the same area as you do who can confirm your ID and address is also allowed. To locate your polling place, click here.

Click here for more information on Election Day registration.

DO I QUALIFY TO REGISTER TO VOTE? To vote in Iowa, you must be registered to vote. To qualify to register to vote, you must be:

  • a U.S. citizen

  • an Iowa resident

  • 18 years old by Election Day

You cannot:

  • Be a convicted felon, unless you have had your voting rights restored

  • Be judged mentally incompetent to vote by a court

  • Claim the right to vote in any other place

To submit an application to restore your right to vote and to hold public office, you must submit an application through the Governor’s office. Click here for a copy of the application to restore your rights to vote and to hold public office. Please note that it is unfortunately not very likely that your application will be considered before the November 6 election.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE AN ID? The county auditor will issue an Iowa Voter ID PIN card to registered voters who do not have an ID. If you do not have an Iowa Voter ID PIN card but you know you are registered to vote, click here to contact your local county auditor’s office. It may not be possible to get an Iowa Voter ID PIN card in time for the November 6 election. It is recommended that you contact your local county auditor’s office with any questions you may have.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FORGET MY ID? This year only, a voter who does not have a valid form of identification can sign an oath swearing their identity before casting their ballot. However, this will not be allowed in 2019.

CAN I STILL REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT? The deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot was October 27. However, the in-person absentee ballot deadline is November 5. You must vote your absentee ballot at the auditor’s office and will not be able to take the ballot home with you. Click here to find your county auditor.

WHAT IF I NEED ASSISTANCE IN MARKING MY BALLOT? For voters who need assistance in marking their ballots, an accessible ballot marking device is available at the county auditor’s office. Click here to find your county auditor’s office. You may also choose a friend or family member to help you, as long as they are not your employer. Curbside voting is also available if you are unable to enter the building where the polling place is located. If you plan to do curbside voting, call your county auditor’s office ahead of time so that they can let election officials know you will need to vote from your vehicle.

CAN I STILL VOTE IF I’M NOT REGISTERED WITH A PARTY? Yes. Voters who are registered as “no party” are able to participate in the general election.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CANDIDATES WHO ARE RUNNING? Your local media outlets (newspaper, television, radio) should have information online about each of the candidates running in your area. If you do not have the internet, you should be able to contact your party affiliation’s headquarters for more information about the candidates (if you have no party affiliation, you should still be able to contact either party’s headquarters). If you need to look up a sample ballot, you can do so at Ballotpedia by clicking here (home address and email address required).


This fact sheet has been adapted from the Iowa Secretary of State Office’s website, and from reporting by The Des Moines Register (“Here’s what you need to know to vote in Iowa’s general election” by Kim Norvell and Robin Opsahl, published May 31, 2018).

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