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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Iowa

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Iowa can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (D)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. Code Ann. § 47.1.

Method of selection: Elected. Code Ann. § 39.9.

Current officer: Michael Mauro (D). Bill would allow Iowans to register and vote on the same day, AP Alert – Political, February 22, 2007. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment with subsequent retention election. I.C.A. §41.16, I.C.A. §41.21, I.C.A. Const. Art. 5 §17.

Justices: Marsha K. Ternus (appointed by R), Jerry L. Larson (appointed by R), Mark S. Cady (appointed by R), Michael J. Streit (appointed by D), David S. Wiggins (appointed by D), Daryl L. Hecht (appointed by D), Brent R. Appel (appointed by D) (Last updated 12/20/07)

Sources:

  • Members of the Iowa Supreme Court, AP Alert – Iowa, October 21, 2005, IA 22:02:09.
  • Will West Des Moines get its hospital?, Cityview; Des Moines, Iowa, August 3, 2006, 2006 WLNR 14316311.  

Local Administrator Training

No info

No law was found requiring Iowa election officials to attend training, or stating whether such training is even offered.

Who tallies precinct results?

County canvassing board - partisanship unconstrained

The county board of supervisors compiles precinct returns.  ICA 50.24.  Supervisors are elected.  ICA 39.18.

Who counts provisional ballots?

County canvassing board - bipartisan

Iowa provisional ballots are counted by what's known as a special precinct board.  I.C.A. 50.21.  The special precinct board is a type of county canvassing board.  I.C.A. 53.20.  The members of this board must include at least some members of the minority political party.  I.C.A. 49.15.

Who performs state canvass?

Special canvassing commission - elected/partisanship unconstrained

The state canvassing board canvasses the votes and is made up of members of the executive council.  ICA 50.37.  The executive council consists of the governor, secretary of state, auditor of state, treasurer of state, secretary of agriculture.  ICA 7D.1. 

Local Administrator

County official - elected

Iowa elections are run by elected county auditors. ICA 47.2, 331.501.

Local Administrators' Party Affiliation

D heavy/elected

County Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting technology
Polk 408,000 Jamie Fitzgerald (D) [1] Elected ES&S PCOS/Automark for disability
Linn 202,000 Joel D. Miller (D) [2] Elected Premier PCOS/Premier DRE for disability
Scott 163,000 Wes Rostenbach (?) Elected [3] Premier PCOS/Premier DRE for disability
Black Hawk 126,000 Grant Veeder (D) [4] Elected Premier PCOS/Premier DRE for disability
Johnson 118,000 Tom Slockett (D) [5] Elected ES&S PCOS/ES&S DRE for disability
Total 1,017,000 (33% of total pop.)
  • [1] Secretary of State Mauro proposes limiting special elections, AP Alert – Political, July 16, 2007.
  • [2] Linn auditor Miller seeks re-election, Gazette (Cedar Rapids), March 28, 2008.
  • [3] However, the current auditor was appointed after the death of the former auditor, Karen Fitzsimmons.
  • [4] Primary ballot set for Black Hawk races, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, March 27, 2008.
  • [5] http://www.johnson-county.com/auditor/returns/0411elec.htm

Voter Registration

Registration Deadline

EDR

The deadline for traditional registration is 5 p.m. ten days before the election. ICA 48A.9. Mail applications are timely if postmarked no later than the 15th day before election. ICA 48A.9. Individuals who appear at in-person absentee voting locations may register at any time prior to the election, but only if they cast an in-person absentee ballot at that time. ICA 48A.7A.

Notice of Registration Error

Yes

Incomplete or inaccurate registration forms will trigger notice within seven days of receipt. ICA 48A.26.

Opportunity to Correct after Registration Deadline

Yes

The Iowa code indicates that if an incomplete application is received “during the twelve days before the close of registration for an election, the commissioner shall provide the registrant with an opportunity to complete the form before the close of registration.” ICA 48A.26. This suggests that there is no opportunity to complete the form after the close of registration. However, because Iowa has EDR, the applicant should be able to provide the correct information by registering on election day.

HAVA matching standards

Hybrid standard

There are two Iowa matching processes, one for applicants who submit driver's license numbers (or state ID numbers) on their voter registration applications, and one for applicants who submit social security numbers on their applications. The driver's license process does not require an exact match. Rather, it returns a number of possible matches that identify, on a percentage basis, the extent to which they match the voter's information. Local administrators then review these matches and determine whether there is a true match, based on their judgment. The administrators will also try common variations on the applicant's name (e.g., "Bob" v. "Robert").

The social security process, on the other hand, requires an exact match of the social security number, date of birth, and first and last names. However, the county auditor will query common variations on first names to help obtain a match.

Note that this description arguably conflicts with the Iowa administrative code, which states that the applicant's identification number and date of birth must match exactly for both the driver's license and social security processes.  IA ADC 821-2.15(48A).  The code does not state whether the applicant's name must match exactly, or only substantially.

Source: Phone conversation, Iowa Secretary of State's office, August 7, 2008.

 

Will the inability to verify social security number or driver's license number prevent registration?

Voter may cast an ordinary ballot after showing ID at polls

If administrators are unable to obtain a match, they send the voter another registration form and a letter informing the voter of the problem and inviting them to resubmit. If the voter does not submit corrected information, the only consequence is that the voter must show HAVA ID at the time of voting. The voter still gets to cast a regular ballot. If the voter cannot present ID, the voter must cast a provisional ballot and return later with ID.

Note that this procedure appears to conflict with the Iowa administrative code, which states that unmatched applications will simply be rejected. IA ADC 821-2.15(48A).

Source: Phone conversation, Iowa Secretary of State's office, August 7, 2008.

 

Challenges

Pre-election challenges

Challenges decided by local election official

Pre-election challenges to eligibility may be initiated by any registered voter against any other registered voter in the same county. ICA 48A.14. The challenger must fill out a written statement that lists the basis for the challenge. A separate form must be filled out for each person challenged. There is no deadline for filing such challenges, although ones filed less than 70 days before an election will not be addressed until after the election (unless the challenge is filed within 20 days of the voter's registration). The local election official (county elections commissioner) will, within five working days, notify the parties of a hearing date to occur between 20 and 30 days of receipt of the challenge. The challenged voter need not personally appear, but may submit documents or other evidence concerning the challenge. The local election official will hear evidence and either reject the challenge or cancel the challenged voter's registration. Either party may appeal to the county trial court, the decision of which is final.

Election day challenges

Successfully challenged voter must cast a provisional ballot

Polling place challenges may be initiated by any poll worker or registered voter. ICA 49.79. The challenger must fill out a form listing his or her name, signature, address and phone number. Poll workers may ask the challenged voter questions regarding registration and eligibility and the voter must cast a provisional ballot (unless the challenge is withdrawn). ICA 49.79, 49.80.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

No specific standard

Iowa law contains no explicit standard for whether to count the provisional ballots of those whose names did not appear in the polls. However, when making this determination, officials must consider any evidence that was submitted by the voter to poll workers on election day before the close of polls. ICA 49.81. They should also consider information on the provisional ballot envelope, registration records, and returned receipts of registration. ICA 50.22. Presumably, the ballot should count if officials find that the voter was registered and eligible.

Note: As an alternative to casting a provisional ballot, voters who have the proper ID may use Iowa's election day registration program and cast a regular ballot. Proper ID is any of the standard forms of ID authorized by HAVA: Current and valid photo ID or a current document with name and address (utilty bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck)(see here). 

Note: As an alternative to casting a provisional ballot, voters whose names do not appear in the poll books may affirm that they are registered in the county and present proof of identification. ICA 49.77. This allows them to cast a regular ballot. Voters whose names are missing may also cast a regular ballot if poll workers call the local election official and confirm that the voter is indeed registered.

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

Ballot will not be counted

State law contains no provisions addressing whether provisional ballots cast outside the correct precinct should count.  However, it appears that officials do not count these ballots (see here). 

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

.5-1 percent of ballots cast at polls

0.72%

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

50-60 percent

54.8%

Early and Absentee Voting

Convenience Voting

Neither early voting nor "no excuse" absentee voting

Iowa does not have early voting.  However, note that any person who comes in to register to vote may cast an in-person absentee ballot at that time.  ICA 48A.7A, 53.2.

Voters cannot cast absentee ballots unless they have an "excuse."  ICA 53.1.  In-person ballot requests must occur between 70 days before the election and the day before the election.  ICA 53.2.  Mail-in requests, on the other hand, must be received no later than 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election.  To count, completed ballots must be received before the close of polls on election day or be postmarked not later than the day before the election and received not later than noon on the Monday following the election.  ICA 53.17.

Voting Technology

Voting Technology

Predominately or 100% OS

County Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting technology
Polk 408,000 Jamie Fitzgerald (D) [1] Elected ES&S PCOS/Automark for disability
Linn 202,000 Joel D. Miller (D) [2] Elected Premier PCOS/Premier DRE for disability
Scott 163,000 Wes Rostenbach (?) Elected [3] Premier PCOS/Premier DRE for disability
Black Hawk 126,000 Grant Veeder (D) [4] Elected Premier PCOS/Premier DRE for disability
Johnson 118,000 Tom Slockett (D) [5] Elected ES&S PCOS/ES&S DRE for disability
Total 1,017,000 (33% of total pop.)
  • [1] Secretary of State Mauro proposes limiting special elections, AP Alert – Political, July 16, 2007.
  • [2] Linn auditor Miller seeks re-election, Gazette (Cedar Rapids), March 28, 2008.
  • [3] However, the current auditor was appointed after the death of the former auditor, Karen Fitzsimmons.
  • [4] Primary ballot set for Black Hawk races, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, March 27, 2008.
  • [5] http://www.johnson-county.com/auditor/returns/0411elec.htm

Does state law require a VVPAT?

Yes

Iowa does require voting machines to produce a paper record for voters to review. ICA 52.7

Polling Place Operations

Who are poll workers?

Appointed by local administrator/some minority party representation

The county auditor appoints poll workers. ICA 47.2, 49.12. No more than a simple majority of poll workers can belong to the same political party.

Poll worker training

Prior to each election

Local officials must conduct training for all poll workers before each primary and general election and may hold training for other elections at their discretion. ICA 49.124.

Polling hours extension

Local administrators may extend

Iowa's state commissioner of elections may exercise emergency powers in the event of disaster or weather conditions that make "travel extremely dangerous or which threatens the public peace, health and safety of the people or which damages and destroys public and private property." 721 IAC 21.1(47). When these conditions exist, local election officials may modify elections procedures by relocating polling places, postponing poll openings, postponing the election (except in Federal elections), and implementing other modifications. Generally local administrators must obtain prior approval of these modifications from the state commissioner of elections, unless prior approval is impossible to obtain. The language of the statute suggests that court permission is not required in order for these modifications to occur. Rescheduled elections will be held the following Tuesday. If voting is postponed on election day itself, the ballots cast prior to postponement will not count (unless in an election contest a candidate persuades a judge otherwise).

Polling hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ICA 49.73.

Voters standing in line at the close of polls may vote. ICA 49.74.

Polling place closing times - local times

9:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

10:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Only HAVA ID required

Iowa generally requires only the minimum ID required by HAVA. This requirement applies only to voters who are voting in a county federal election for the first time, who registered to vote by mail, who did not produce ID at the point of registration, and whose identities were not verified in the statewide voter registration database by comparing the information on the voter registration form against information contained in social security or state motor vehicles databases. IA ADC 722-213 (49, 48A). However, voters may also be required to present ID if their registrations have been marked inactive, if their right to vote is challenged, or if poll workers do not recognize the voter (see here).

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voters must cast provisional ballot

f the voter does not present adequate proof of identification, the voter may cast a provisional ballot. IC 3-11-8-25.1.

Follow-up required of voter

Voter must return with ID

Voters may return before the closing of the polls with documents or statements supporting the counting of a provisional ballot. ICA 49.81. In addition, any elector may present documents supporting the counting of provisional ballots at the commissioner’s offics until the reconvening of the special precinct board which is to take place no earlier than noon on the 2nd day following the election. ICA 50.20, 50.21. This implies that voters who were required to show ID on election day have at least two days to get to the commissioner’s office to present ID so their provisional ballot will be counted.

Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters or Emergencies

Election-specific emergency provision

Iowa's state commissioner of elections may exercise emergency powers in the event of disaster or weather conditions that make "travel extremely dangerous or which threatens the public peace, health and safety of the people or which damages and destroys public and private property." 721 IAC 21.1(47). When these conditions exist, local election officials may modify elections procedures by relocating polling places, postponing poll openings, postponing the election (except in Federal elections), and implementing other modifications. Generally local administrators must obtain prior approval of these modifications from the state commissioner of elections, unless prior approval is impossible to obtain. Rescheduled elections will be held the following Tuesday. If voting is postponed on election day itself, the ballots cast prior to postponement will not count (unless in an election contest a candidate persuades a judge otherwise).

Ballot Shortages

Local officials will restock

Iowa statutes instruct precinct officials to contact local election officials by phone to get more ballots when there is a shortage. ICA 49.66.

Iowa code requires local election officials to photocopy ballots if necessary for voting to continue. ICA 49.67.

What if touchscreens break down?

N/A

Iowa uses optical scan paper ballots as its primary voting system.

Note: Emergency paper ballots appear to be allowed when voting machines, such as DRE's, break down. ("'Paper ballot' in this context includes: 1. An emergency paper ballot cast in a precinct that has voting machines". 721 IAC 26.1(49).)

Post-Election Processes

State certification deadline

About 30 days after election

The secretary of state presents the abstracts of the votes to the board of state canvassers no later than 27 days after the election. ICA 50.38. The state board then certifies the results. 

According to the Secretary of State’s website, the state canvass must be completed this year by December 1, 2008 (see here).

Election contest deadline

Within 1 week of state certification

Federal election contests (including contests for President) must be filed within two days of the state canvass. ICA 60.4, 62.5. Iowa courts have construed similar provisions to mean that the filing must occur within two days of actual certification, not mere completion of the canvass. de Koning v. Mellema, 534 N.W.2d 391, 395 (Iowa., 1995).

Election contests for state office must be filed within 30 days of the declaration of the results. ICA 61.3. Election contests for county office must be filed within 20 days after declaration of the results. ICA 62.5.

Local count deadline

Between 8 and 14 days after the election

The county board of supervisors must meet on the first Monday or Tuesday after the election to canvass the votes. ICA 50.24. The commissioner must forward a copy of the abstract of votes to the state commissioner within 10 days after the election. ICA 50.30.

Audit type

None

Iowa election law does not provide for audits. 

Audit scope

No audits authorized

No authorization for audits of voting machine accuracy was found.

Candidate-requested recounts

Available at 1%

Candidates initiate the request procedure by filing a petition with the county auditor no later than 5 p.m. on the third day following the county canvass. ICA 50.48. The county canvass must begin on the first Monday or Tuesday following the election, and the final county results must be submitted to the state within 10 days of the election.  Candidates must request recounts in each county where they are desired and may request them only if the margin of victory is less than one percent of the total vote.

Note that this the deadline for requesting a recount actually occurs before the deadline for the state to announce official statewide results.  The official statewide results do not have to be certified until 27 days after the election.  ICA 50.38.  A recount must be requested within 13 days of the election, at the latest.

Administrative Recounts

Local officials may order

If officials determine that a vote tabulation error occurred, they must notify the county board of supervisors. ICA 50.50. The board will determine whether to conduct a recount.

Automatic Recounts

None

Iowa does not have automatic recounts.

Defintion of a vote

Other

Iowa law requires that the mark be “consistent” with the requirements of the voting system used in the precinct. ICA 49.92. The definition is incomplete in that it does not provide any more guidance on the validity of varying types of marks or what constitutes consistent.

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots

Re-vote in affected precincts

Iowa voters must sign declarations of eligibility prior to voting. §49.77. When voters fail to conform to this requirement but are nevertheless allowed to vote, the unverified ballots will be considered “excess.” §50.6. An “error” in voting can invalidate the election result and cause a new election to be held in the affected precincts. §50.8. The Iowa Supreme court has held that excess ballots constitute an “error” for purposes of the statute. Rankin v. Pitkin, 50 Iowa 313 (Iowa, 1879). But to cause a re-vote, the error must not only occur, but must affect the result of the election. §50.8. As a matter of law, excess ballots will affect the result of the election and cause a new election to be held where their number is greater than the margin of victory. Rankin v. Pitkin, 50 Iowa 313 (Iowa, 1879).

These rules apply to statewide elections. §50.8. Iowa statutes contain a separate but similar section dealing with local offices. §50.7. 

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Unclear

Local election officials must use their judgment. Iowa law does not specify whether inadvertent errors made by a voter while applying for a provisional ballot will invalidate those ballots. Instead, the statute provides broadly worded language that would allow elections officials to use their judgment in deciding whether to count such ballots: "the decision to count or reject each ballot shall be made upon the basis of the information given on the envelope containing the provisional ballot, the evidence concerning the challenge, the registration and the returned receipts of registration." § 50.22. The Iowa administrative code provides no further details. See IA ADC 721-20.1(47)-721-28.4(48A). Neither does the Secretary of State's website.

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Other

A special court is used for the contested elections of federal officials. I.C.A. § 60.1. The court consists of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and four judges of the district court. Supreme Court and district court judges are both appointed to one year terms. After this initial term, they must stand for election. Iowa Const. Art. V, § 17; I.C.A. § 46.16. 

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Bipartisan

Recounts are conducted by a designee of the candidate requesting the recount, a designee of the apparent winning candidate, and one other person chosen jointly by the two designees. I.C.A. s 50.48 s 3. If the two designees cannot agree on the third person, the chief judge of the local judicial district will make the appointment. Id.