June 5, 2018 Primary Election

Primary elections: Historic facts and figures

Dates and deadlines

  • February 5: First day to request mailed absentee ballots, 120 days before election. (Change in state law; previous law did not specify a first day.)
  • February 5: Party caucuses, 7 PM. Sites set by parties, not yet announced.
  • February 26 - March 16: Federal and State candidate filing period. File with Iowa Secretary of State.
  • March 5 - March 28: County candidate filing period. File with auditor's office. 
  • Saturday, April 23: Military and overseas ballots must be mailed by this date, 45 days before election.
  • Monday, May 7: First day for in-person early voting at auditor's office. (Change in state law from previous 40 days before election.) First day to mail domestic absentee ballots, 29 days before election. (Change in state law; previous requirement was no later than 40 days before election.)
  • Friday. May 25: Voter pre-registration deadline, 5 p.m. Voters may still register after this date using election day registration procedure (ID and proof of address required).
  • Friday. May 25: Deadline to request mailed absentee ballot, same as pre-registration deadline. Requests must be in our office by 5 p.m. (Change in state law; previously was 5 p.m. on the Friday 4 days before the election.)
  • Monday, May 28: Memorial Day, office closed.
  • Saturday, June 2: Auditor's office open for voting (at least 8 hours, to be announced).
  • Monday, June 4: Last day to vote early in-person, 7:45 to 5:30. Postmark deadline for mailed absentee ballots.
  • Tuesday, June 5: Election Day. Polls open 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Vote at regular polling places.Change in state law: Votes will be asked for ID.

Offices and Signature Requirements

Federal office

File with Iowa Secretary of State.

U.S. Representative, 2nd District, two year term. Signature requirements: Based on 2016 presidential vote.

  • Democratic Party: 1766 signatures
  • Republican Party: 1905 signatures
  • Libertarian Party: 157 signatures

Also required: 2% of presidential vote in half the district's counties. Signature chart

Iowa's U.S. Senate seats are not on the 2018 ballot. Senator Ernst's term expires in 2020 and Senator Grassley's term expires in 2022.

Statewide Offices

All terms four years. File with Iowa Secretary of State.

Governor: Signature requirements based on 2016 presidential vote.

  • Democratic Party: 3269 signatures
  • Republican Party: 4005 signatures
  • Libertarian Party: 296 signatures

Also required: 1% of party's presidential vote in at least 10 counties. Signature chart

Lieutenant Governor: Does not appear on primary ballot. Nominated by state party convention after primary, and elected as a team with Governor in November 6 general election.

Other statewide offices: Same for all parties. 1,000 signatures required, including 50 from at least 10 different counties.

  • Secretary of State
  • Auditor of State
  • Treasurer of State
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Attorney General

State Legislators

File with Iowa Secretary of State.

  • State Senator: 25 odd-numbered districts. This includes all three Johnson County districts - 37, 39 and 43. Four year terms, 100 signatures required (all parties)
  • State Representative: All 100 districts.  Johnson County districts: 73, 74, 77, 85, and 86. Two year terms, 50 signatures required (all parties)

County offices

All terms four years. File with auditor's office.

Signature requirements: 100 signatures for Democrats and Republicans, 56 for Libertarians (2% of party vote in last general election, maximum 100)

  • Board of Supervisors: Two seats, currently held by Supervisors Carberry and Rettig. (Supervisors Friese, Green-Douglass and Sullivan were elected to four year terms in 2016.)
  • County Treasurer
  • County Recorder
  • County Attorney

Primary Elections: Frequently Asked Questions

A primary is an election that takes place within each official political party. No one is elected in a primary election. Instead, voters affiliated with political parties will select their party's candidates for the November 6 general election.

Only the full-status parties hold primaries, and only voters who register with a party may vote in the primary. Voters may change party at any time including Election Day. Three parties will have primaries in 2018: the Democratic and Republican parties and, for the first time, the Libertarian Party, which earned full party status in 2016. (The Green Party has "organization" status, which means people can register as Greens but the party does not have a primary.)

Independents or candidates of other parties may file for the November 6 general election by petition during the general election filing period after the primary.

Voters can only participate in one party's primary.

If you are registered to vote as a Democrat, for example, your vote in the primary election will help choose the Democratic Party's nominees for various offices. Since you, as a registered Democrat, are selecting your party's candidate to run against candidates from other parties in the general election, you will be given a ballot with only Democratic candidates to choose from. You will not see the names of any Republican or Libertarian candidates on your primary election ballot.

In the general election, which decides who will actually fill the offices, all voters get ballots listing all of the candidates.

Can an independent vote in a primary?

Yes and no. You can walk IN as an independent, but you can't walk OUT as an independent (the official term is "no party"). You have to declare affiliation as a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian before you vote.

Can I vote for a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another?

In a general election, yes. In a primary election, no.

Can I write in a candidate of one party in the other party's primary?

Yes, but the party primaries are separate contests. If you vote in the Democratic primary and write in Abe Lincoln, that will be counted as a Democratic primary vote for Lincoln, but it will not be added to Lincoln's Republican primary total. Candidates can only accept the nomination of one party.

I've been hearing that some nominations might go to a convention. How does that work?

Iowa law requires a candidate to win 35% of the primary vote to be nominated. If no candidate wins 35%, a party convention decides the nomination.

  • Statewide office: State convention, delegates elected at county conventions

  • US Representative: Congressional district convention, delegates elected at county conventions

  • County office: County convention, delegates elected at caucuses

  • Legislative seats: County central committee members within the district, elected at caucuses

Contact the parties for more information.

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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