Voting Guide

Voter Pre-Registration Deadline: 10 days before General Election, 11 days before the Primary Election.

Mail-in  registration forms must be postmarked no later than 15 days before the election or received by the close of registration.

Eligible voters can also register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time at your assigned voting or caucus location. Election Day registration information is available here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation/edr.html.


  • Iowa Caucuses: February 3. Caucus-goers can only participate in one party’s caucus. They must be registered to vote and affiliated with that party, though they can change their partisan affiliation at any time,  including at the caucus.

  • Primary Election Mail-in Registration Deadline: May 21

  • Primary  Election Online Registration Deadline: May 25

  • Primary Election: June 5

  • General Election Mail-in Registration Deadline: October 19

  • General Election Online Registration Deadline: October 24

  • General Election: November 3

Students have a choice about where to register to vote.


Students attending college may register at their campus address or choose to remain registered or register at their permanent or home address.


You may only be registered and vote in one location.

Iowa’s voter registration form asks you for your Iowa driver’s license number, Iowa ID card number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Failure to provide this information will require you to show identification when you vote that shows your name and photo or your name and address. Be sure to provide one of these numbers if you have it.

If you are registering to vote online, you must provide an Iowa driver’s license number or Iowa ID card number, and the last five digits of your Social Security number.

If you are registering to vote at the polls on Election Day, you may use a photo ID that is current, valid, and contains an expiration date, such as:

  • Iowa driver’s license, non-driver state ID card, or Iowa Voter ID card

  • Out-of-state driver’s license or state ID card

  • U.S. passport

  • U.S. military ID

  • ID card issued by your employer

  • Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college

  • Tribal ID

If your photo ID does not contain your current address, you must supplement your photo ID with acceptable proof of residence that contains your name and current address, including but not limited to:

  • Residential lease

  • Utility bill (including cell phone bill)

  • Bank statement

  • Paycheck

  • Government check or other government document

  • Property tax statement

If you do not have any of these IDs or documents, a registered voter from your precinct may attest that you are who you say you are and that you live in the precinct. This requires both you and the registered voter to sign an oath swearing that your statements are true.

You are required to show ID before voting in person. 

Accepted voter IDs include the following:

  • Iowa driver’s license, non-driver state ID card

  • Iowa Voter ID card

  • U.S. passport

  • U.S. military ID

  • Veteran Health Identification Card issued by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Tribal ID


A voter who moves to a different precinct in the same county where the voter is registered will be required to prove identity and residence. If the voter’s acceptable ID card/document also shows the voter’s new address, no additional proof is needed. If it does not include the voter’s new address, the voter must show separate proof of residence, including:

  • Residential lease

  • Utility bill, including a cell phone bill

  • Bank statement

  • Paycheck

  • Government check or other government document

  • Property tax statement

By Mail

  • Iowa allows voters who expect to be unable to  get to their voting location on Election Day to vote by mail-in ballot. You must send your county auditor’s office an application to request a  mail-in ballot. The application asks for your Iowa driver’s license, Iowa ID card number, or the Iowa voter PIN number from your Voter ID  card.

  • Applications must be received by your county auditor’s office by no later than 5 p.m. on the registration deadline. Applications are due 10 days before a general election or 11 days before any other election.

  • Completed mail-in ballots must be received by your county auditor’s office by the close of polls on Election Day, or  postmarked by no later than the day before Election Day and received by noon on the Monday after the election. You cannot return an absentee ballot to a polling place on Election Day.

  • Learn more about voting by mail at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteemail.html

  • Track your absentee ballot at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search

Early In-person

Early in-person voting begins no more than 29 days before an election at your county auditor’s office. Check with your county auditor’s office for specific locations and times. Find your county auditor’s office location and contact information at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html.

Election Day

General election voting sites will be open from 7:00 am until 9:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you are in line by the closing time then you must be allowed to vote.

For primary and general elections, voting sites will  be open from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Election Day. For City/school elections voting sites will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. For special elections, please contact your county auditor for more information. For any election, if you are in line by the  closing time, you must be allowed to vote.

Election Day registrants will be able to cast regular ballots, unless they are voting in a location that does not have electronic poll books. Election Day registrants in voting locations without electronic poll books will cast a provisional ballot that will count as long as their name does not appear in a felon database. No action is needed on the part of the voter to make these ballots count. Most Iowa precincts have electronic poll books.

Registering to Vote Does Not Affect Your:

Federal Financial Aid

Where you register to vote will not affect federal financial aid such as Pell Grants, Perkins or Stafford loans, or your dependency status for FAFSA.

Status as a Dependent on Your Parents’ Taxes

Being registered to vote at a different address from your parents does not prevent them from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes.

Tuition Status

Being deemed out-of-state for tuition purposes does not prevent you from choosing to register to vote in your campus community.


Will registering to vote in Iowa affect my driver’s license or car registration?

Registering to vote in Iowa creates a rebuttable presumption of residency for purposes of Iowa’s motor vehicle laws. Residents who drive a vehicle in Iowa must obtain an Iowa driver’s license and register their cars with the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles. For more information, contact the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles.

Fair Elections Center and Campus Vote Project intend the information contained herein is used only as a general guide. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed North Carolina legal professional.
Last updated March 2019