Iowa Voter Registration

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

Who can register to vote?

U.S. citizens who reside in Johnson County are eligible to register to vote in the county. You may register at age 17 ½, but you must be 18 years old to vote.

How do I register to vote?

You may register to vote by mail by completing an online application, or by printing a paper voter registration application and returning it by mail or in person to our office.

You may also register to vote in person at the Auditor's Office during business hours, 7:45 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.

After you register to vote, you will receive a voter card by mail which lists your precinct, polling place, and legislative districts.  You do not need this card to vote.  If your card is misplaced, new cards are available at no charge. By law cards must be mailed; please allow up to two weeks for delivery. Our office normally mails cards once a week.

If you need proof of your voter registration sooner, you have the right to request a certified copy of your registration in person at our office (cost: 50 cents).

NOTE: The Iowa Department of Transportation will no longer accept certified copies of voter registration as a secondary proof of address when obtaining a driver's license. The US Postal Service will not accept certified copies of voter registration as a secondary proof of address when applying for a post office box. These agencies will only accept the mailed voter card.

The University of Iowa Registrar's office does not require certified copies for persons applying for in-state tuition. Simply register to vote, and check the box on the application form indicating you have registered to vote in Iowa.

How do I change my address or re-register?

If you move within Johnson County or would like to change any other registration information, you may change your registration by mail. Enter the changes on the space provided on your voter card or complete a new voter registration application and mail it to the Auditor's Office. You may also change your registration in person at the Auditor's Office during business hours, 7:45 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.

If you are already registered in Johnson County and have moved within the county, you may change your address when voting early, or at the polls on Election Day. To change your address on Election Day, go to your new polling place and bring a photo ID (one with your old address is OK). You may look up your polling place here or call the Auditor's Office (356-6004). You'll save time on Election Day if you update your registration ahead of time.

If you move from Johnson County to another county or state, you must re-register in your new county of residence. When you re-register, indicate on your application that you were previously registered in Johnson County, Iowa, so officials in your new community can notify us to remove your name from our rolls.

When can I register to vote?

There is no waiting period to be eligible to register to vote. If you move, you may register to vote as soon as you can get mail at your new home.

Election Day Registration took effect in Iowa on January 1, 2008. There is still a voter pre-registration deadline of ten days before general elections and eleven days before all other elections, but you can register after the deadline using the election day registration procedure. However, this procedure has more requirements than registering before the deadline.

What do I need to bring with me to register to vote?

If you are registering on line, you will need a valid Iowa driver's license or non-driver ID. Have it handy because the program will ask you for some numbers and information on your license.

To register to vote in person before the pre-registration deadline, no documents are required. If you are registering by mail and do not have either an Iowa driver's license number or a Social Security number, some documentation is needed; see the voter registration application for more details.

After the pre-registration deadline, you will need to provide ID and proof of address to use the election day registration procedure.

What do I need to know when I register?

Your name, residence address, and birthday. You are also required to provide your driver's license or non-driver ID number (Iowa licenses/IDs only) or the last four digits of your Social Security number (if you don't have a driver's license/ID or if your license is from another state). If you do not have either of these numbers, there are other identification options; see the voter registration application for details.

You will be asked for your telephone number, e-mail address and party preference; however, these are not required. It also helps to know the last place you were registered to vote (if any) so we can notify voter registration officials there.

If I have changed my name, must I register and vote under my new name?

To avoid delays at the polls, you should re-register when you change your name. If you do not, you may update your name at the polls on election day.

Do I have to register before each election?

Only if you have moved to a new address or changed your name.

Will I remain registered even if I don't vote in every election?

You cannot be removed from the voter rolls simply for not voting. In order to cancel someone from our rolls entirely, we must receive official notice that the voter has moved, registered elsewhere, died, or been convicted of a felony.

To remain actively registered, you must be able to receive mail at your address. If mail is returned to our office by the Postal Service, you are placed on an "inactive" status. Your registration cannot be completely cancelled until you been on inactive status through two general elections.

More information on annual National Change of Address (NCOA) mailing (update of addresses from Postal Service)

Who can register voters?

Any person may assist another in completion of a voter registration application.

Can I register to vote by mail?

Yes. Applications are available here.

Can I update my information on the phone or on line?

We can't take changes over the phone. If you have an Iowa driver's license or non-driver ID, you can now register or update your registration on line.

Where do I send my voter registration application after I fill it out?

If you are a resident of Johnson County, send it to our office:

Johnson County Auditor
913 S. Dubuque St. Suite 101
Iowa City IA 52240

If you are not a Johnson County resident, our office can tell you where to send your registration.

Can I register to vote if I have a Green Card?

No. You must be a United States citizen to register to vote.

Can an ex-felon register and vote?

Yes, but only if your rights have been restored.

On July 4, 2005, Governor Vilsack restored voting rights to all ex-felons who had completed their sentences through that date. If you completed all terms of your sentence before that date, your rights have been restored.

From July 4, 2005 through January 14, 2011, Governors Vilsack and Culver restored voting rights to ex-felons automatically but only on request. If you completed all terms of your sentence and requested restoration of rights during that time, your rights were restored.

Since January 14, 2011, Governor Branstad has considered restoration of rights on a case by case basis.

If you have questions about your own status, you may contact our office.

Can anyone obtain access to the voter registration list? What if I don't want my address released?

Our office is required by state law to sell voter lists for political purposes. More on purchase of voter lists .  Anyone purchasing a voter list must fill out a form identifying themselves and their specific purpose (such as the name of a political organization or campaign). Iowa law does not allow voters to exclude themselves from such lists, and political organizations are exempt from most provisions of the national do-not-call law.

Use of the voter list for non-political or commercial purposes, such as debt collection or sales, is a serious misdemeanor (Code of Iowa, Section 48A.39).

Does registering to vote mean I'll get jury duty?

You may be called for jury duty even if you are not registered to vote, since jury lists are compiled from driver's license records in addition to voter registration lists. For more information about jury duty contact the Johnson County Clerk of Court, 356-6060.

Can a change be made in my registration without my knowledge?

No, every time your information changes you should receive a new voter card. This includes records updated in our annual update of addresses from the Postal Service (NCOA).

I just registered and got my voter card, but there's a mistake on it.

Your card includes an area for corrections. Make any corrections or changes you need to, sign the card, and send it back. Within two weeks, you should receive another new card with the corrected information.

I thought I was registered with one party but my card says I'm registered with another one.

You may have voted in a primary election or attended a caucus and changed your party affiliation at that time. If you wish to make any changes or corrections, you can make those on your voter card and send it back. We'll then send you a new one within two weeks.

Residence: Where You Live and Where You Vote

What does "Residence Address" mean?

Short answer: where you sleep at night.

Long answer: Your residence is where your home or living quarters is located, and, to which, whenever you are absent, you intend to return - except if you are away from Iowa because of federal or state government employment, including military service. Leaving for temporary purposes, such as school attendance, does not result in a change of residence for voting purposes, unless you register there.

Why is the residence address so important?

Because your polling place and elected representatives are determined by your residence address. In order for you to receive the correct ballot on election day, your registration must have a physical address.

Can I put down my post office box as my address?

No, the address must be the complete street address of your residence. The only exception is the Domestic Violence shelter. We also cannot accept a mail drop location such as Mailboxes Etc. or UPS.

If you have a post office or mail drop box, put this on your registration in addition to your street address, in the section labeled "alternate mailing address".

Can I choose which address to use for registering?

You must register where you live. If you live at different places at different times of the year, you can register at only one address. If you are a student living at school, you must decide whether to register at your parent's home address or at your school address (but not both!)

"Snow birds" who go south for the winter must decide whether to register in Iowa or in the other state.

You cannot register at a business address or at a property that you own but do not live in. You can only register at a former address if you are in the military or living outside the country.

How do I become a Iowa resident?

There is no such thing as all-purpose state residence. As far as voter registration is concerned, if you are staying at an Iowa address and intend for this to be your legal residence, you may register to vote.

Registering to vote in Iowa does not automatically qualify you for in-state tuition; contact your school for their requirements. For tax questions, contact the Iowa Department of Revenue.

I'm serving in the military. What is my voting residence?

The place where you resided when you first entered the service, unless you later establish a voting residence elsewhere.

I'm a U.S. citizen living outside the country. Can I still vote?

Yes. You may continue to vote using the last permanent address you used before leaving the country. If this is the address of a family member, and the family member later moves, you should continue to use the last address you lived at. If you were born overseas, use your parent's last permanent U.S. address.

Can a homeless person register and vote?

Yes. However, you can't simply put down "Homeless" - you must list some address or specific location so that we can place you in a precinct.

If you are staying at the Shelter House, you may use that address, 429 Southgate Avenue, and list their post office box, PO Box 3146, as your mailing address.

If you are on the street, you may use a street corner or location to which you most frequently return (such as "corner of Riverside and Benton," "Ped Mall," or "Iowa City Walmart parking lot.")

I get my mail at the Crisis Center.

Since the Crisis Center doesn't have overnight housing, you cannot list this as a residence address. You may use the crisis center address, 1121 Gilbert Court, as a mailing address only, but your registration address needs to be the place you stay at night. If you're just staying with someone until you find a place, you may register to vote using that physical address, and then update your residence when you get a permanent home.

Can I register if I am staying at the Domestic Violence shelter?

Yes. For safety reasons the street address of the shelter is not released. Use the mailing address (PO Box 2657). This is the only post office box we accept - all other voters must list a physical address.

Elections Office
Phone:  319-356-6004         

Elections Deputy
Carrie Nierling

Johnson County Auditor’s Office
Administration Building
913 S. Dubuque St. Suite 101
Iowa City, IA 52240

Phone:  319-356-6004
Fax:  319-356-6086

Office Hours
Monday – Friday
7:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Bus Route
(Lakeside or Broadway bus routes)

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