116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The first steps to casting votes in this fall’s midterm elections in Iowa are being taken today.
Today is the first day Iowans can request an early ballot be sent to their home.
The early voting period in Iowa — when Iowans can actually cast votes — begins Oct. 19. On that day, county auditors — the local elections officials — will mail absentee ballots to voters who have requested one.
Oct. 19 also is the day that Iowans can vote early in-person at local elections offices.
“It’s important to have a plan when it comes to voting. You have multiple options available,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, the state’s top elections official, said in a news release.
Absentee ballots must be completed and received by local elections officials on Election Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Any ballots that are received after that date — no matter when they were mailed — will not be counted, with limited exceptions.
That hard deadline is one of multiple changes to state law enacted in recent years by the Republican-majority Iowa Legislature that placed new and significant restrictions on the state’s early voting window and process.
The time frame in which Iowans can cast an early vote has been slashed by half, from 40 days to 20. And the time frame in which ballots can be mailed to a voter who requested one and then returned to and received by the local elections office also has been cut nearly in half, from 36 days to 20.
Also, the options for how and where to return an early ballot have been significantly reduced. Under recent changes to state law, ballot drop boxes may be placed only outside the local elections office, additional satellite and early voting locations can only be established upon voters’ request, and only the voter can return his or her absentee ballot to the local elections office, with limited exceptions.
Republicans who passed the new restrictions say they were needed in order to preserve the integrity of election results, even though early voting fraud is extremely rare.
Democrats criticized the restrictions as an effort to limit the number of Iowans who vote early, a bloc that historically has skewed Democratic.
However, the new restrictions have not yet reduced early voting in Iowa’s elections.
In the 2020 presidential election, Iowa set overall turnout and early voting records — although the rules were relaxed for that election to accommodate voters during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And in the state’s primary elections this June, early voting hit the second-highest total ever for a primary election, second only to the 2020 primary.
Absentee ballot request forms are available on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. The form can be downloaded, and then must be completed and mailed or delivered to the local elections office.
Comments: (515) 355-1300, firstname.lastname@example.org