It is no secret to anyone that we are in the thick of a general election season. Political ads abound on television, radio, and in print. Everyone seems to want to tell you why their particular candidate is the best and most qualified for the job at hand, and why the opposition candidates are not suited. Short of running for office, participating in elections is the best and most direct way to make our voices heard in our local, state, and national governments.
This post is not about WHO you should vote for. That is a very personal decision that should be based on careful research on the candidates and issues that are most important to you. Rather, this post is about HOW to go about voting in this year’s general election in Iowa City. Considering the special challenges parents face in getting to the polls (e.g. work, families, and caring for young children), here is everything you need to know to vote, either early, on election day, or by absentee ballot.
**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to provide correct and accurate information here. However, you are strongly encouraged to verify information such as polling place hours, locations, and documentation requirements with the County Auditor’s Office prior to heading out to vote. ***
Registering to Vote:
If you are at least 17 1/2 years old, you may register to vote, although you must be 18 on election day in order to participate in the election. Once you are registered to vote, you will remain on the voter rolls even if you do not participate in every election, unless you are convicted of a felony or the county auditor receives notice that you have moved. You should update your voter registration whenever you move, or if you change your name. Click here for information on voter registration in Johnson county.
In Iowa you are able to register to vote all the way up to the actual day of the election. If you register to vote at the polling place on election day, you must bring with you a valid driver’s license or non-driving photo ID and proof of address (like a utility bill). Prior to ten days before the election, you may register to vote, either in person at your county auditor’s office or by mail. If you move but have a valid Iowa driver’s license, you can update your voter registration online.
How to Vote:
In person, on election day:
The most straightforward way to cast your ballot in the election is to go to the polling place for your precinct on election day. This year’s general election is on Tuesday, November 8th. No special documentation is required if you are already registered to vote. If you need to register at the polls, you will need a form of identification and proof of address. Polls will be open at most locations from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can find a list of Johnson County precincts and polling places here.
In person, early voting:
We’re lucky, here in Iowa, to have one of the longest early voting periods in the country. Early voting in Iowa actually began on Thursday, September 29th, allowing people to vote in person at a time that best fits into their work/life/family schedule. In Johnson County, you can go to the county auditor’s office (located at 913 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City) any weekday between the hours of 7:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and cast your ballot. Evening hours will be available on November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd until 9:00 p.m. Weekend hours will be available October 29th and November 5th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and November 6th from noon to 5 p.m. Like election day voting, no special documentation is required for early in-person voting if you are already registered to vote.
In addition to early voting at the Auditor’s office, there are many satellite locations where you are able to cast a ballot on specific days and times. You do not need to reside in the precinct where the satellite voting location is located in order to vote early at that location.
Early Voting Locations and Times:
913 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
Weekdays 7:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 29 through Monday, November 7
Evening Hours – Open till 9 p.m.
Tuesday, November 1
Wednesday, November 2
Thursday, November 3
Saturday, October 29, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, November 5, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, November 6, Noon – 5 p.m.
Iowa City Public Library
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City
Early Bird Day Thursday, September 29, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 29, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, October 30, Noon – 5 p.m.
Monday, October 31 through Friday, November 4, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, November 5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Old Capitol Town Center
201 S. Clinton St, Iowa City, 2nd Floor
Friday, October 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mary Louise Petersen Residence Hall
304 Grand Ave., Iowa City
Friday, October 21, 3 – 7 p.m.
Iowa Memorial Union
125 N. Madison St., Iowa City, Lower level
Monday, October 24 through Friday, October 28, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
200 Hawkins Dr., Iowa City
Monday, October 24 through Friday, October 28, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
North Liberty Community Library
520 W. Cherry St., North Liberty
Saturday, October 29, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
1668 Sycamore St, Iowa City
Sunday, October 30, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Boyd Law Building
130 Byington Rd, Iowa City
Tuesday, November 1, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Coralville Public Library
1401 5th St., Coralville
Friday, November 4, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, November 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Before planning to vote early at a specific location, you should check the county auditor’s website to be sure that nothing has changed in the early voting schedule. The full updated list of satellite voting locations can be found here.
If none of the times or locations available for early in-person voting are convenient for you, or if you just prefer to vote in the privacy of your own home, you can easily vote by absentee ballot. Any registered voter in the state of Iowa can request an absentee ballot. The process is so incredibly easy: just download the Absentee Ballot Request Form, fill it out, sign it, and return it to the county auditor. In Iowa City you can mail or hand deliver your application to this address:
Johnson County Auditor
913 S Dubuque St. Suite 101
Iowa City IA 52240
After the office receives your request for a ballot, they will mail you a ballot. It comes with a postage-paid, addressed return envelope. Simply fill out your ballot, seal it in the envelope, and drop it into the mail. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is the Friday night before the election at 5:00 p.m.. In order to be counted in the election your ballot MUST be postmarked the day before the election OR hand delivered to the Auditor’s office by the close of the polls on election day. Someone else can deliver your ballot to the Auditor’s office for you, with the only exception being that a candidate is not allowed to deliver any ballots except his or her own. Full information about voting by absentee ballot can be found here.
So there you have it. No matter your work, life, or family challenges, there is a way and a place for you to participate in this election. Who you vote for is up to you. Let’s make our voices heard, friends!
How will YOU vote in this year’s election?