Election Day FAQ: Where to go and what you need to vote on Tuesday

Zak Neumann/Little Village

Q: When are polls open on Tuesday? (Also, where do I vote?)

A: Voting starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m., although if you’re in line when the clock strikes 9, you will still be allowed to cast a ballot.

Anyone unsure where to vote can use the online look-up tools provided by the Johnson County Auditor’s Office and the Linn County Auditor’s Office.

Both Iowa City and Coralville are trying to make it easier for you to get to the voting booth, by making all bus rides free on Election Day. Iowa City Transit is also adding special shuttles to two polling locations that normally don’t have bus service: the Precinct 10 polling site at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area’s Park Lodge and the Precinct 12 site at Alexander Elementary School. Both shuttles will run on 30-minute schedules.

Route maps for the Iowa City buses is available through Riders the Transit app or Google Transit, or call Iowa City Transit at 319-356-5151. Coralville Transit has route maps posted online and anyone with questions can call its office at 319-248-1790.

For those needing a ride who prefer a car to a bus, Advocates for Social Justice (ASJ) has partnered with Democracy Defenders Iowa to provide free Uber rides to the polls for any Iowa voter. Instructions for how to get the Uber voucher can be found on ASJ’s Facebook page.

Johnson County residents who don’t have a smartphone to use the Uber app or would like an alternative to Uber can get a free cab ride to their voting location thanks to Corridor Community Action Network. To schedule a ride, call Iowa City Yellow Cab at 319-338-9777 and request a CCAN Voter Ride.

ASJ is also offering childcare reimbursement to make it easier for parents to vote. The group is asking parents to message them a receipt through Facebook for up to six hours of childcare. The receipt can be handwritten.

Q: What sort of ID do I need to vote?

A: The following types of ID are acceptable under the 2017 voter ID law.

• Iowa Voter Identification Card
• Iowa Driver’s License
• Iowa Non-Operator ID
• U.S. Military ID or Veteran ID
• U.S. Passport
• Tribal ID Card/Document

If you doesn’t have an ID, another registered voter with ID can attest to your identity. You’ll be able to cast a provisional ballot, and will be given instructions for what needs to be done to have that provisional ballot counted. The process must be complete by noon on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Q: I have one of those forms of ID, but it’s expired. Can I still use it?

A: Because of the special circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as your ID expired sometime after Jan. 1 of this year, it still counts as valid for this election.

A sign sits outside of the State Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville, a polling place during the Iowa primary election, June 2, 2020. — Emma McClatchey/Little Village

Q: I want to vote, but I’m not registered. What are my options?

A: Iowa has same-day registration, so any adult citizen who goes to the precinct that corresponds to their home address, and hasn’t been stripped of the right to vote by order of a judge or because they have not completed all court-imposed requirements following a felony conviction (or were convicted of an offense under Chapter 707 of Iowa Code) can register and immediately exercise the franchise.

To register on Election Day, you’ll need a valid Iowa driver’s license or one of the following form of identification:

• Iowa non-driver ID card
• Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card
• U.S. passport
• U.S. military ID
• ID card issued by employer
• Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
• Tribal ID

If your photo ID doesn’t have your current address, you’ll need to bring one of the following proofs of residence:

• Residential lease
• Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
• Bank statement
• Paycheck
• Government check or other government document

Even if you don’t have an acceptable photo ID or proof of residence, you may still register to vote, provided you can persuade a friend who is already registered to vote to vouch for you. The ID-deficient person and the registered voter will both have to sign oaths, attesting to the identity and home address of the ID-deficient person.

If you’ve moved since the last time you’ve voted and you haven’t yet updated your voter registration with your new address, you can do that at your new polling place on Election Day. To update the address, you’ll need one of the photo IDs listed above. It’s OK if the ID has your old address, although if you’ve moved into a new voting precinct, you’ll also need one of the proofs of residence listed above.

Q: Is assistance available for voters with disabilities?

A: Yes. Each precinct should have two officials — a Democrat and a Republican — designated to assist voters with special needs. If the voter prefers to have someone other than the designated officials assist, that person will have to sign an Affidavit of Voter Requesting Assistance, according to the Iowa Secretary of State.

Curbside voting is also available for those unable to easily exit their vehicles. Once alerted to a voter requesting the curbside option, the two appointed precinct officials will bring a ballot to the voter.

Anyone with questions about assistance with voting should call the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, 319-356-6004, or the Linn County Auditor’s Office, 319-892-5300.

Q: Will there be any changes on Election Day because of COVID-19?

A: Yes. Voters are urged to wear face coverings inside their polling places. Disposable face masks will be available for anyone without their own. Hand sanitizer will also be available and social distancing will be encouraged. All election workers are being issued PPE and commonly touched areas will be regularly cleaned.

Unlike a normal year, when poll workers are ever vigilant to make sure voters return their pens after voting, you’ll be able to keep the pen this time. It’s part of the effort to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump — photos by Zak Neumann, illustration by Jordan Sellergren

Q: I’ve been hearing about the potential for voter intimidation on Tuesday. What should I do if something happens?

A: If you experience any intimidation or believe you witness any act of intimidation at or in a polling place, contact the nearest election worker and report it. It’s a felony to intimidate, threaten or otherwise coerce to try prevent someone from voting or to force them to vote. Election officials can order the arrest of anyone attempt to disrupt voting.

Anyone loitering or congregating within 300 feet of a polling place can also be charged with a serious misdemeanor if they are interfering with voting.

In addition to reporting possible acts of voter intimidation to election workers, you can also call the Voter Protection Hotline set up by Democracy Defenders Iowa at 515-282-0484. The hotline will be staffed by voting rights attorneys and other volunteers who will be able to help with questions and concerns on Election Day.

Political parties and individual candidates are allowed to have official observers in polling locations, but those observers must present credentials when they arrive at a polling place and have limitations on their actions.

Under Iowa law, any registered voter can challenge whether another voter in the same county is qualified to vote. The challenged voter will be able cast a provisional ballot and will receive instructions on what do next. The person making the challenge must sign an affidavit stating their grounds for the challenge. If it determined the challenge was not made in good faith, the person who made it may be charged with a serious misdemeanor.

Neither Johnson County nor Linn County has a recent history of voter intimidation on Election Day, and both counties will have security at their voting locations.

One of the ballot drop boxes installed at the Johnson County Administration Building, Oct. 6. 2020. — Paul Brennan/Little Village

Q: I’ve filled out the absentee ballot and want to use that instead of voting in person. What do I do?

A: Well, it’s too late to mail it — the envelope needed to postmarked by Monday for a mailed ballot to be valid — but you can still deposit it at one of the drop boxes the auditors have set up. In Johnson County there are two drop boxes located on the south side of the Johnson County Administration Building at 913 S Dubuque St in Iowa City. In Linn County, there is a drop box at 823 3rd St SW, Cedar Rapids, near the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center.

To be counted, absentee ballots must be in the drop boxes by the time the polls close at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

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