Mover's Guide: Iowa

August 10, 2010

Elections Division:  888-SOS-VOTE (888-767-8683)

I moved from the address at which I am registered.  What should I do?

I moved from another state.

If you moved to Iowa from another state, you must register to vote in Iowa to be able to vote.[1]  You may register on Election Day by going to your local polling place and completing a registration application, taking an oath, and providing proof of identity and residence.[2]  Unless you take advantage of election-day registration, the last day to register in time to vote in the next primary or general election is by 5 p.m. ten days before the election.[3]

If you moved from out of state, you do not have to be an Iowa resident for a certain period of time before registering to vote.[4]

I moved within Iowa.

If you moved within the same county you must notify your county auditor or you may report the change on Election Day at the polls.[5]  If you moved to a new address in a different county, you must complete a new registration form to update your registration records.[6]  That form is available here: http://www.sos.state.ia.us/pdfs/elections/voteapp.pdf.

The election is right around the corner and I never updated my registration from my previous address.  What should I do?

Iowa allows voters to register on Election Day.[7]

If you moved to a new address in the same county since you last voted, you should contact your local election office to determine whether your registration is current and to find out the location of your current polling place.  Election officials may have changed your registration record to reflect your new address even if you did not notify the election official about the move.  If your registration information has been changed to your current address, you should go to the polling place with that address to vote.

Many registered Iowa voters who move are still entitled to cast a ballot that will be counted — even if they did not notify the appropriate election official about their move before Election Day and the election official has not changed their registration.

Scenario One: New Address, but Same Polling Place

If you moved to a new address that is covered by the same polling place as your old address, you can vote at that polling place after filling out a voter registration form.  This is true regardless of how close to the election you moved.[8]

Scenario Two: New Address in New Polling Place

Iowa residents may register and vote at the polls on Election Day.  All persons wishing to register and vote on Election Day must do all of the following before being allowed to vote a regular ballot:

  • Show proof of identity
  • Prove residency in the precinct
  • Complete a voter registration application
  • Sign an “Oath of Election Day Registrant.”[9]

A list of the various acceptable forms of identity is available on the Secretary of State’s website.[10]

If you do not provide proof of identity or residency, a registered voter in the precinct may attest to the fact that you are who you say you are and that you live in the precinct.[11]

If you do not provide proof of identity or residency and have no one to attest for you, you may cast a provisional ballot.[12]  A special board will meet after Election Day to review your registration record and the information provided, and will decide if the ballot can be counted.


[1] Iowa Code Ann. §§ 48A.5(1) (West 2010).

[2] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.7A(1)(a).

[3] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.9(1).

[4] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.5(2)(b).

[5] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.27 (West 2010); see also Voter Registration, supra at 5. 

[6] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.10.

[7] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.7A(1)(a) (2010).

[8] Iowa Secretary of State, Iowa Precinct Election Official Guidebook 19 (2010), available at http://www.sos.state.ia.us/PDFs/publications/Guide.pdf.

[9] Iowa Code Ann. § 48A.7A(1)(a).

[10] See Iowa Secretary of State, Election Day Registration Guide, available at http://www.sos.state.ia.us/elections/voterinformation/voterregistration.html#2.

[11] Iowa Code Ann.  § 48A.7A(1)(c).

[12] See Election Day Registration Guide, supra note 13.