How to Vote in Iowa’s 2020 Election: What You Need to Know


By Lisa Bertagnoli, Sponsored by AARP Iowa

All registered Iowa voters can request an absentee ballot, making it easy to safely vote from home during the coronavirus pandemic, or vote early in person to avoid Election Day crowds:

– Voters must submit an application for an absentee ballot by Oct 24.

– The early-voting window runs from Oct. 5 to Nov. 2, the day before Election Day.

How do I register to vote?

Even if you’re already registered, you should check that your registration is up to date on the Iowa secretary of state’s website as soon as you can.

You can register online, by mail or in person. If you have an Iowa driver’s license or state ID number, register online at the state department of transportation’s website. If you don’t have a driver’s license or ID number, you can download the state’s registration form and mail it to your county auditor. You can update your registration the same way — online or by printing out a voter registration form and mailing it in. Or register in person at your auditor’s office.

You can also register at your polling place on Election Day; you must have an ID or documentation proving your residence in your voting precinct, which could be a driver’s license, Iowa non-driver ID card, U.S. passport or employer ID. A full list of acceptable IDs and documentation is on the Iowa secretary of state’s website. If you don’t have this identification, you can have a registered voter who lives in your precinct attest to your address and identity.
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How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

You can download an absentee ballot request form from the Iowa Secretary of State’s website and mail it to your county auditor or pick up the form from your auditor’s office. You must submit the completed form by Oct. 24 to vote in the November general election. An absentee ballot will be mailed to you with prepaid postage. Ballots should be mailed to your county auditor and must be postmarked by Nov. 2.

AARP Iowa is making sure every AARP member who’s registered to vote receives an absentee ballot application in their mailbox. We strongly support Iowa’s July 17 approval of the secretary of state’s plan to mail absentee ballot requests to all registered voters and are raising awareness as Iowans receive those mailed requests. We are working with election officials to ensure Iowans understand how to vote safely and easily via absentee ballot.
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How do I know my absentee ballot is secure?

Voters can track the status of their absentee ballot online to see when the county auditor receives the request, mails the ballot and receives the completed ballot. Iowa county auditors use absentee ballot tracking from the U.S. Postal Service.
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When is Election Day? When are polls open?

Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Yes, you can vote in person before Election Day at your county auditor’s office or satellite location. In-person early voting is available from Oct. 5 to Nov. 2. Check on locations and hours at your county auditor’s office.
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 What form of identification do I need to vote?

Voter ID is required. That can be an Iowa driver’s license, Iowa non-operator ID, U.S. military ID or veteran ID, or U.S. passport. A list of acceptable IDs is on the secretary of state’s website. If you don’t have an ID, you can have a registered voter in your precinct attest to your identity and address in person on Election Day, using the Election Day registration procedure.
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 What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus? 

Polling places will have hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, disinfectant and social distancing markers.

 Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have? 

Not necessarily. Due to the coronavirus, some locations have changed. You can find your polling place on the secretary of state’s website.

 What are the key races in my state?

  • U.S. president
  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent Joni Ernst (R) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D)
  • U.S. House: All 4 seats
  • Iowa House of Representatives: All 100 seats
  • Iowa Senate: 25 of 50 seats

Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this and check back.

AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

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