Polk County Auditor

2018 Voting FAQs

2018 General Election Important Dates

Monday, July 9 8:00 AM-- First day to request a absentee ballot for the General Election

Monday, October 8 8:00 AM- First day absentee ballots may be mailed or voted in the election office

Saturday, October 27 5:00 PM - Deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail and Voter pre-registration deadline.  After today, voters must follow same day registration procedures.

Saturday, October 27 and November 3 - Office open 8 AM to 5 PM

November 5 Last day in person, in office early voting

November 6 7:00 AM - 9:00 PM General Election Day

____________________________________

General Election website

_________________________________

Like us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/polkcountyelection

Register to Vote / Update Registration

 How can I find out if I am registered to vote?

To find out if you are registered, or if you need to update your registration, click here or call the Polk County Election Office at 515-286-3247.

How do I register to vote / update my registration?

There are a number of ways to register / update registration:

  • In-person at the Polk County Election Office
  • By mailing a completed Official Iowa Voter Registration form to the Polk County Election Office
  • Online by visiting the Department of Transportation website.  You must have an Iowa Driver’s License to use this method.  Instructional video
  • At the Department of Transportation when applying for or renewing Driver’s License
  • Restoration of Citizenship Rights must be restored before registering to vote.  (If applicable, by reason of felony conviction) 
  • At any city hall in Polk County
  • At your polling place on Election Day (see ‘Can I register to vote on Election Day?’

Register in-person, or mail completed forms to:

Polk County Election Office
120 2nd Avenue, Suite A
Des Moines, IA  50309

Who can register to vote in Iowa?

To register to vote you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident of Iowa
  • At least 17½ years old to register (must be 18 years old to vote)
  • Have not been convicted of a felony (or have had your rights restored)
  • Not currently judged by a court to be ‘incompetent to vote’
  • You must have given up your right to vote in any other place.  

Update Registration:  Do I have to change my voter registration if my name, address, or party affiliation changes?

Yes.  A voter registration form is also used to change your name, address or party. Complete the form and return it to the Polk County Election Office at the address above.  A new Voter Acknowledgement Card or Voter ID Card will be mailed to you.

With a felony conviction, how do I restore my citizenship rights to vote and hold public office?

More information is on the Governor's Executive Clemency webpage 

Can I register to vote on Election Day?

Yes.  To register at the polls on Election Day, you must:

1) Provide proof of identity with one of the following: *

  • Iowa Driver’s License (any type / class), or Non-operator ID
  • Out-of-State Driver’s License, or Non-operator ID (with proof of residency)
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Military or Veteran’s ID card
  • ID card issued by an employer (with exp. date)
  • ID card issued by an Iowa high school or college (with exp. date)
  • Tribal ID

* ID’s must display the voter’s photo and an expiration date that is unexpired, with the exception of a Veteran’s ID card, which may not have an expiration date.

If ID has current address, proof of residency documentation is not needed.  

2) Provide proof of residency in the precinct with one of the following:  

(Must be current within 45 days)

  • Residential lease
  • Property tax statement
  • Utility bill, including a cell phone bill
  • Bank statement
  • Paycheck or government check
  • Or other government document

What if I want to register to vote on Election Day and I don't have an Iowa Driver's License?

If you do not have an Iowa Driver's License or Iowa non-operator ID, you may use one of these forms of ID: *

  • Out-of-state driver's license or non-driver ID card
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Military or Veteran’s ID card
  • ID card issued by an employer
  • ID card issued by an Iowa high school or college 
  • Tribal ID

           * ID’s must display the voter’s photo and an expiration date that is unexpired, with the exception of a Veteran’s ID card, which may not have any expiration date.*

What if I want to register to vote on Election Day, but my driver's license has my old address on it?

You may prove residency in the new precinct with one of the following items that illustrates your current address (Must be current within 45 days):

  • Residential lease
  • Property tax statement
  • Utility bill, including a cell phone bill
  • Bank statement
  • Paycheck or government check
  • Or other government document

What if I want to register to vote on Election Day, but I don't have the correct documentation?

Iowa law allows another voter to attest to the voter's identity and residence. An attester must be a registered voter who lives in the same precinct as the voter.  The attester must sign a prescribed oath, and may not attest for more than two voters in that election. 

An attester may also attest for one person wishing to register to vote on Election Day.

What if I want to register to vote on Election Day and I don't have any of the above documentation or anyone to attest for me?

A voter in this situation may cast a provisional ballot. Before the provisional ballot can be counted, the voter must appear in person by noon on Thursday following the election at the Polk County Election Office and present proof of identity and residency in the precinct.

Registering to Vote While in College

What if I want to register to vote on Election Day, but I am a student in college.

What kind of documentation do I need?

College students may register at their college address, or their “permanent” home address, but not both.  If registering with college address, you may use a housing contract to meet the definition of "residential lease". The contract must:

  • Be effective for the current semester or term (with a specific date)
  • List the student's name
  • Provide the building name where the student lives and a room number, if  applicable

What if I want to register to vote on Election Day, but I am a college student and live on campus. What kind of documentation do I need?

For a student at an Iowa community college or public university, "other government documents" that can be used to prove residency in the precinct include:

  • A printed page from an online student directory
  • A printed page from an online college or university billing
  • A copy of the residence hall contract

The above forms must be current and must list the student's name and local address.

Voter Registration Drives

(Political Parties/Campaigns)

What is the deadline to turn in voter registration forms?

  • Voter Registration deadline is 10 days before a general election, 11 days for all other elections.
  • Voter Registration forms must be returned to the Polk County Election Office within 7 days of receipt.
  • 24 hours if within 3 days of October 27 Voter Registration deadline.
  • A volunteer cannot fill in missing information unless they are in the presence of the voter.
  • Failure to turn in forms is a violation of Iowa law.

Overseas & Military Voting

Can I register and vote by email?

Yes.  An Absentee Ballot Request form also serves as a Voter Registration form, and can be submitted via email or fax at any time during the calendar year for overseas / military voters.

How can I get an absentee ballot for my son or daughter serving in the military or living outside the United States?

Iowa law authorizes additional voter registration and absentee voting rights for Iowans actively serving in the military or living outside the United States.  Contact the Polk County Election Office at (515) 286-3247 for details or click here to go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. 

Voting by Absentee Ballot

What are the three options for Absentee Voting?

  1. A voter may request and cast an absentee ballot in person at the election office.  (Iowa code §53.10)
  2. A voter may request and cast an absentee ballot at a satellite location. (Iowa code §53.11)
  3. A voter may request and cast an absentee ballot via mail.  (Iowa code §53.8)

What is early voting?

The term early voting is a slang for a voter who uses one of the forms of absentee voting. 

Can I Email the request form?

Email options are only available for FVAP Voters  The original request form with your "wet" signature is required for non-FVAP voters.  

How can I get an absentee ballot for this election?

An absentee ballot can be requested in one of the following ways:

  • You complete and sign the Absentee Ballot Request and return the original form with "WET" Signature to the Polk County Election Office.  
  • You may sign a written request that includes:
    • Name and date of birth
    • Registration address
    • Mailing address, if different from your registration address
    • Signature
    • Election name or date of election
    • Driver's License number/non-operator's ID number or their voter ID PIN (found on Voter ID Card) on the Absentee Ballot Request form. (No longer required) 

Mail the completed request to:

Polk County Election Office
120 2nd Avenue, Suite A
Des Moines, IA  50309

Absentee request dates for 2018 General Election

  • July 9 First day to request an General Election absentee ballot
  • Oct 8 First day to mail General Election ballots
  • Oct 27 Deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail.  

What should I do if I requested an absentee ballot but I have not received it?

October 8, 2018 is the first day absentee ballots will be mailed

You can track your absentee ballot online by using the Track Your Absentee Ballot search.  This will include the date the office processed your request, and the date the ballot was mailed to you.

You may also contact the Polk County Election Office at (515) 286-3247 to check the status of your requested ballot.

What if I lost my absentee ballot that was mailed to me?

  • Contact the Polk County Election Office at (515) 286-3247 and ask for a replacement ballot
  • You will be asked to complete and sign a form stating that you lost or never received the absentee ballot

What if I made a mistake on my absentee ballot and want to request a new one?

To request a new/replacement ballot:

  • Insert the ballot in the Return Envelope
  • Write "Spoiled Ballot" on the envelope
  • Clearly state that you want a new ballot
  • Return it to the Polk County Election Office

What is the first date I can request an absentee ballot?

July 9th for the November 6th General Election.  Ballot will be mailed on October 8th

What is the last date I can request an absentee ballot be mailed?

2018 General Election - October 27th is the final day absentee ballots are allowed to be mailed from the Polk County Auditor‘s Office for the November 6th General Election.

What is the first date I can vote at the Polk County Election Office?

October 8th is the first day to vote at the Polk County Election office (120 2nd Ave) for the November 6th Primary Election, and the first day requested absentee ballots can be sent to voters by the election office.

How can I get an absentee ballot for my son or daughter who is in college?

Your son or daughter must complete and sign an Absentee Ballot Request and deliver/mail it to the appropriate County Auditor. 

Voting at the Polls on Election Day

How do I find my polling place?

Your polling place is determined by your residential address.  You may find your polling place online.

Will I need to show identification at the polls on Election Day?

Beginning January 1, 2018:

  • Pre-registered voters will be asked to show their ID before voting at the polls. Anyone who does not have their ID will be asked to sign an oath verifying their identity and will then be allowed to cast a regular ballot.

Beginning January 1, 2019:

Iowa voters will be required to show one the following at the polls before they vote:

  • Iowa driver's license (any type / class)
  • Iowa non-operator's ID
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • Veterans ID
  • Voter ID PIN
  • Tribal ID

What is a Provisional ballot?

Provisional ballots will be required for voters that are not in the election register to ensure that the voter has not been convicted of a felony, and their rights have not been restored. Provisional ballots are not counted on Election Day, but are placed in an envelope and, if found eligible, the vote shall be counted.

Who determines whether a voter's provisional ballot is valid?

Provisional ballots will be reviewed and determined by the Absentee and Special Voters Precinct Board (ASVP Board) within a week of Election Day.

What is an Attester?

Persons registered to vote but unable to present any of the above identification will be allowed to vote if their identity and residence within the precinct is attested to by a voter who is properly registered in the precinct (either preregistered or registered at the polls on Election Day). The attester must sign a prescribed oath, and may not attest for more than two voters in that election.  An attester may also attest for one person wishing to register to vote on Election Day.

Can I use a Power of Attorney to request a ballot for my spouse?

No. Iowa law specifically prohibits the use of a Power of Attorney to request an absentee ballot on behalf of another voter.

Can I pick up my ballot at the County Election Office?

No. Iowa law prohibits a voter from removing a ballot from a polling place or the County Election Office. If you are not ready to vote in person at the County Election Office, you may sign an Absentee Ballot Request for a ballot to be mailed to you.

Is it true that absentee ballots are only counted if it's a close race?

No. Iowa law requires absentee ballots be counted in every election.

Why are the official results different from the results posted on election night?

Election night results are unofficial. They do not include valid provisional ballots and valid absentee ballots received after Election Day. Official election results will be certified at the election canvass.

When are election results released?

Election results from absentee ballots will be released shortly after the polls close on Election Day. Results from polling places will be accumulated as precincts report on Election night.

How do I know my ballot will be counted correctly?

Iowa law requires a test of the ballot scanners (including those used to count absentee/early voting)  prior to the election. A group of test ballots for the upcoming election are marked and used to confirm that the ballot scanners are correctly programmed in synchronization with the printed ballots, and that they correctly read the test ballots.

Is the voting system trustworthy?

Yes. The ballot scanners meet guidelines adopted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and have been certified for use by the Iowa Board of Examiners.

What kind of voting system will I see?

Voters in each precinct will cast votes on paper ballots that will be counted by ballot scanners. Absentee ballots will also be counted by ballot scanners.

If someone helps me mark the ballot, can they tell others how I voted?

No. Iowa law prohibits a person from revealing how another person voted.

Can a precinct official help me?

Yes. If a voter requests assistance from a precinct official to read or mark the ballot, two precinct officials will assist the voter together.

What if I can't easily get out of my car?

A voter who is physically unable to enter the polling place has the right to vote in the voter's vehicle. Two precinct officials will bring the voter's ballot, eligibility form, and secrecy folder to the voter.

What accommodations are made for people with disabilities?

It is the intent of federal law to ensure that voters with disabilities are fully able to exercise their voting rights at the polls.  Every polling place in Polk County is equipped with an ADA compliant voting machine.  To mark their ballots, voters use features on the machine such as a touch screen or an audio component.  For more information, contact the Polk County Election Office at (515) 286-3247.

How can I become a pollworker?

Do you or do you have a friend, neighbor or family member who might be interested in working have them contact the Election Office at 286-3253 or Apply here

All Other Questions, Please Call (515) 286-3247


I Want To...

Main Office

Administration Building
111 Court Avenue, Room 230
Des Moines, IA 50309
Mon - Fri: 8 - 5, except holidays

 

Phone: (515) 286-3080

Fax: (515) 286-3608

Email

Election Office

George Paletta Building
120 2nd Avenue, Suite A
Des Moines, IA 50309 
Mon - Fri: 8 - 5, except holidays

 

Phone: (515) 286-3247

Fax: (515) 286-2099

Email

Central Accounting

Administration Building
111 Court Avenue, Room 315
Des Moines, IA 50309 
Mon - Fri: 8 - 5, except holidays

 

Phone: (515) 286-3753

Fax: (515) 323-5253

Email