How to Vote in Iowa's 2022 Election

Posted on 07/15/22 by Emily Paulin

En español | Iowa's Nov. 8 general election includes races for U.S. House and Senate, state House and Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and several other state offices. The state’s primary was June 7.

Across The U.S. Voters Flock To The Polls On Election Day

  • Absentee voting: All registered voters can request an absentee ballot and vote from home for the general election. 
  • Early in-person voting: Iowa offers in-person absentee voting starting Wednesday, Oct. 19, and ending Monday, Nov. 7.
  • In-person voting on Election Day: The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A new state law introduced in 2021 has changed some voting rules in Iowa. Among them:

  • The absentee voting period starts 20 days, instead of 29 days, before Election Day. Polls close at 8 p.m., instead of 9 p.m. County auditors must receive absentee ballot request forms 15 days before Election Day (formerly 11 days, and 10 days for general elections).
  • County auditors can no longer mail out absentee ballot application forms unless a voter requests one.
  • All absentee ballots must arrive at the issuing county auditor’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, instead of by noon the following Monday.
  • Only the voter, an immediate family member, household member or “delivery agent” may return absentee ballots.
  • Counties are now allowed one drop box for returning absentee ballots. 

Some of the changes are currently being challenged in the courts. Also, new redistricting has changed the boundaries of some state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect where you vote, and which candidates appear on your ballot.

  • U.S. Senate: one seat; Michael Franken (D), incumbent Chuck Grassley (R)
  • U.S. House: all four seats  
  • State Senate: 34 of 50 seats 
  • State House: all 100 seats 
  • Governor: Deidre DeJear (D), incumbent Kim Reynolds (R), Rick Stewart (L)
  • Lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor of state and secretary of agriculture

For more information on races and candidates, visit the secretary of state’s General Election webpage.

Iowans can preregister to vote:

  • Online: Use the state’s voter registration portal. You can also check your registration status or change your address or party affiliation via the portal. 
  • By mail: Print out a voter registration form from the secretary of state’s website, complete it and mail it to your county auditor.
  • In person: Go to your county auditor's office. Or you can attend a voter registration drive or visit certain government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, Health Services or Economic Security.

The deadline to preregister is  5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24.

If you miss this deadline, you can register in person on Election Day at your county polling place or when casting an in-person absentee ballot — available Wednesday, Oct. 19, to Monday, Nov. 7 — at your county auditor's office or a satellite location, if offered (contact your county auditor to find out). You must present an acceptable form of ID and proof of residence. If you don’t have sufficient documentation, another registered voter who lives in the same precinct may attest to your identity and residence.

You can check if you are registered or change your address or party affiliation through the state's voter portal or your county auditor’s office.

Any registered voter can request a mail-in absentee ballot from their county auditor. You can get a request form:

You can submit your request for a mail-in absentee ballot no earlier than Tuesday, Aug. 30. Return your request form to your county auditor’s office no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24. If you miss the deadline, you can complete an absentee ballot in person through Monday, Nov. 7, at your county auditor’s office or at a satellite location, if offered (contact your county auditor to find out).

Once your absentee ballot request form is received, the county auditor will mail you your absentee ballot with instructions on how to mark and return it. You can return your completed absentee ballot to your county auditor’s office:

  • In person: Absentee ballots must be received by your county auditor's office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Note that the availability of drop boxes for absentee ballots varies from county to county, but each county is now allowed one and it must be located at or in the immediate vicinity of the county auditor’s office.
  • Via an immediate family member or household member: Those who turn in another’s ballot must fill out a form to verify their identity and present that form when they turn in the ballot. 

There are exceptions for those with blindness or other disability, who may ask a “delivery agent” to deliver their ballot. Delivery agents must be registered voters, provide ID to the county auditor, swear to follow the law, and return the ballot in person to the county auditor, not via mail or a drop box.

If you got an absentee ballot but instead want to vote at the polls on Election Day, you must “surrender,” or give back, your absentee ballot at the polls. If you are unable to surrender it, you will be offered a provisional ballot at the polls instead.

A provisional ballot is for voters who:

  • Can't prove they’re eligible to vote
  • Requested absentee ballots but did not surrender them at the polls
  • Have their eligibility to vote challenged

For example, if your name doesn’t appear on the list of registered voters at the polls, or if you don’t have the correct ID, you will be offered a provisional ballot.

But you must “cure” your provisional ballot in order for it to be counted. This means providing evidence of your voting eligibility by the time of the county canvass of votes, which is 12 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14. Before you leave the polls on Election Day, you should be given a written notice explaining these requirements.

Yes, via an absentee ballot. You can request and submit an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office starting Wednesday, Oct. 19. In-person absentee voting ends Monday, Nov. 8, the day before Election Day.

Note that for in-person absentee voting, you are required to fill out an absentee ballot request form and provide ID, just like you would on Election Day.

For absentee voting, disabled voters can ask any registered Iowa voter to help them deliver their ballot. Those who turn in another’s ballot must fill out a form to verify their identity and present that form when they turn in the ballot.

For voting on Election Day, Iowa law requires all polling places to be accessible to all voters. Each polling place has a special voting device with elements, such as a touch screen or audio component, that helps disabled voters complete their ballots. You can also have someone assist you, as long as they are not your employer, your employer’s agent or an officer/agent of your union. Precinct election officials (PEOs) will also be on site to assist. You will be asked to sign a form showing you asked for help. If you are not physically able to sign the forms, you can use a rubber stamp or mark to sign.

If you are unable to enter the building of your polling place because of a disability, you can also vote curbside. Precinct election officials will bring voting materials to you in your car. Note that when a voter requests assistance from precinct election officials, two — one from each political party — always assist if the election is the primary, general or any other partisan special election.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit the state’s online Find Your Precinct/Polling Place portal to find where you need to cast your vote.

Yes. Iowa voters are required to show an Iowa driver’s license or nonoperator ID, U.S. passport or another acceptable ID at the polls before they vote.

A voter without ID may have the voter’s identity attested to by another registered voter in the precinct. Both you and the attester will be required to sign an oath swearing the statements being made are true.

Voters without ID or an attester will be offered a provisional ballot.


Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Aug. 22, 2022,​​ with information on the general election.

This story is provided by AARP Iowa. Visit the AARP Iowa page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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