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Voting rights

By the Civil War most free adult males, property owners or not, had the right to vote. But it took amendments to the U.S. Constitution to give the vote to black males (1870), all women (1920), and 18-year-olds (1971). In more recent times two articles of federal legislation have been passed to guarantee that the electoral process is open to all citizens. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was enacted to eliminate discrimination in voting for minorities, particularly in the south. And the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as “motor voter”, has opened up the voter registration process to all, particularly by allowing citizens to apply to vote when they get their drivers’ licenses. The League of Women Voters was active in advocating for both laws to offer greater opportunity for participation by citizens in their government."Today, every American citizen age eighteen and older has the right to vote. Sometimes it’s a right we take for granted. We forget how much…has gone into making sure that all segments of the American population – minorities, women, youth, and others – are able to have their say."

In spite of their belief in democracy, the country’s founders

"… did not have in mind that all adults should be able to vote. During the early years of the country’s history, legislatures in the United States generally restricted voting to white males who were twenty-one years of age or older. Many states also limited voting rights to those who 'had a stake in society'."
Translation:"To vote, you had to own property."

In Iowa most elections – school board, city council, and general - are held in the fall.
Primary Elections
Held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June of each even-numbered year for the members of political parties to nominate candidates for the general election ballot. Candidates for federal, statewide, and legislative offices file their nomination petitions with the Iowa Secretary of State. Nomination petitions for county and township offices are filed with the County Auditor in the appropriate county.

School Elections
Held annually on the second Tuesday in September. Nominating petitions are filed with the school secretary not more than 64 days or less than 40 days before an election.
General Elections
Held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each even-numbered year.

City Elections
Held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each odd-numbered year. Some cities hold primary elections four weeks before the regular election and some cities hold runoff elections four weeks after the regular city election. Nominating petitions for cities with primary elections are filed not more than 85 days nor less than 67 days before an election. Nominating petitions for other cities are filed with the city clerk not more than 71 days or less than 47 days before an election.

Where and How to Vote
Once a person has registered to vote, they will be notified by mail giving them the name of the precinct in which they live. Prior to an election, information and notices are published in local newspapers naming the polling place for each election precinct, the date of the upcoming election, and the hours during which the polls will be open. County Auditors also can provide voters with this information.

Absentee Voting
Persons who will be away on election day, or who wish to vote early, may vote absentee. A registered voter may apply in writing to the County Auditor to receive an absentee ballot. The voter may then vote either by mail or in person (at the auditor’s office or at a satellite voting location) up to the day before an election. Please note that in order to vote at the auditor’s office the day before an election a voter must already be registered to vote!