Election Day FAQ: Where to go and what to know before casting your ballot in Iowa

Johnson County residents vote in the primary election at the Senior Center on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Iowa City. – Adria Carpenter/Little Village

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. The 2022 midterm election in Iowa includes races for local, state and congressional offices, in addition to a statewide ballot measure.

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

A: Voting starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m., although if you’re in line when the clock strikes 9, you will still be allowed to cast a ballot. If you haven’t voted since the 2020 presidential election or the last time Gov. Kim Reynolds was on the ballot in 2018, take note of the 8 p.m. closing time for the polls. Voting on Election Day used to go to 9 p.m., but last year Reynolds signed into law new restrictions on voting that cut both the number of days for early voting and the time polls are open on Election Day.

Anyone unsure where to vote can use the online look-up tool on the Iowa Secretary of State’s site. Just enter your zip code and street to find your precinct’s poll site. (If you’re not sure what your zip code is, the Post Office has its own online look-up tool for that.)

Don’t go to the auditor’s office. That was a site for early voting, not voting on Election Day.

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: What sort of ID do I need to vote?

A: The following types of ID are acceptable under the 2017 voter ID requirements Gov. Branstad signed into law in 2017.

• 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 your ID doesn’t have your current address on it, you’ll need one of the following documents as proof of residency.

• Residential lease
• Utility bill, including a cell phone bill
• Bank statement
• Paycheck
• Government check
• Other government document
• Property tax statement

Q: Can I vote if I don’t have the right kind of ID with me?

A: Possibly. Registered voters who don’t have the right ID can cast a provisional ballot if another registered voter in that precinct, who has the right type of ID in hand, is willing to attest the ID-less voter’s identity. The voter then has until Monday, Nov. 14, to present the needed form of ID at the county auditor’s office in order to have the provisional ballot counted.

Johnson County residents vote in the primary election at the Senior Center on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Iowa City. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

Q: I want to vote, but I’m not registered. What do I need to do?

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 one of the forms of ID listed above. If your ID does not have your current address, you’ll need of the proofs of residency also listed above.

I Voted Today stickers. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Q: I’ve moved since the last time I voted, but never updated my voter registration. Should I just go to my old precinct to vote?

A: No. You vote where you live. You can update your registration on Election Day at the polling place for current residence, using the ID and/or proofs of residence listed above.

Q: I’m confused by the wording of Public Measure 1 on the back of the ballot. What does voting “yes” mean, and what does voting “no” mean?

A: Voting “yes” means you want to change the Iowa Constitution to make it almost impossible to pass any law regulating guns in the state. The “strict scrutiny” provision of the measure would also require judges to strike down some existing state laws, such as ones prohibiting people from carrying guns on school property, stopping drunk people from carrying guns and restricting firearms possession by felons.

As Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks pointed out in a news conference last month, the language in Public Measure 1 goes much further than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only three states have added the ballot measure’s “strict scrutiny” to their constitutions. Those three states — Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri — are ranked second, fourth and fifth in the nation in the number of gun deaths per capita.

Voting “no” on Public Measure 1 means you want to preserve the ability of state lawmakers to pass gun regulation in the future, and preserve laws currently in force.

First day of early voting at the Johnson County Administraion Building on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

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.

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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 their county auditor’s office.

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, but you can still deposit your completed and sealed absentee ballot at one of the drop boxes the auditors have set up. In Johnson County, the drop box is 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. The drop box in Polk County is built into the outside wall of the Polk County Auditor’s Election Office at 120 2nd Ave in Des Moines.

To be counted, absentee ballots must be in the drop boxes by the time the polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

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