Iowa Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in Iowa?

In Iowa, you have the right to the following as protected by federal law. Election staff must respect these rights:

  • Accessible voter registration
  • Accessible polling places
  • Policies and procedures that do not discriminate against you based on your disability
  • Accessible, available, and operational voting systems, features
  • Your service animal to accompany you inside the polling place
  • The right to vote privately and independently or with assistance, if needed
  • Assistance from a person of choice, who can be a friend, family member, or poll worker (but not your boss, union agent, or a candidate unless this person is your family member)
  • Election Staff trained to understand the rights above.
Who can register to vote?

To register in Iowa, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 17 and will be turning 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident of Iowa

If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you may still register and vote.

In Iowa, you may not register or vote if:

  • You have had your right to vote specifically removed by a court order, unless your right has been restored
  • You have been convicted of a felony. You are eligible to vote if your voting rights have been restored
  • You claim the right to vote elsewhere

Register to vote now if you are eligible!

What are my rights when registering to vote?

Federal law requires assistance in registering to vote from offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs serving people with disabilities. Responsibilities include:

  • Providing voter registration forms
  • Assisting voters in completing the forms
  • Transmitting completed forms to the appropriate election official
  • All aspects of voter registration must be accessible 
What are the different ways to vote in Iowa?
  • In person
    • On election day
    • At your county auditor’s office, starting 20 days before Election Day
       
  • Absentee
    • By mail. If you have not returned your mail-in ballot by election day, you have the following options:
      • Take your voted ballot to the county auditor's office before the polls close on election day,
      • Surrender your voted ballot at the polls and vote a regular ballot, or
      • Vote using provisional ballot at the polls if you cannot surrender your voted absentee ballot
    • At a satellite location
       
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
     
  • Provisional ballot at a polling place
     
  • Curbside at your polling location if you are unable to leave the vehicle
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Iowa?

You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized. A written application for a mailed absentee ballot must be received by the voter's County Auditor no later than 5:00 p.m., 15 days before the election.
 
In order to receive an absentee ballot, you must provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Iowa residential address
  • Voter Verification Number (ID Number)
    • Iowa Driver's License or Non-Operator ID Number OR
    • Four digit Voter PIN located on the voter's Iowa Voter ID Card
       
  • The name or date of the election for which you are requesting an absentee ballot
  • Party affiliation - only required for Primary Elections, which are held in even numbered years
  • Signature
How is the Iowa mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?

If you have a vision impairment, you can call 888-SOS-VOTE (888-767-8683) or email support@sos.iowa.gov to receive accessible information and services.

What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Iowa?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs.   If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your local election official.

Curbside voting is available if you are unable to leave your vehicle or enter the polling location. 

  • After showing a valid form of ID, Registrars of Voters from both parties will bring you a ballot and a privacy sleeve. 
  • You must mark the ballot in front of them, but they must stand in a way that will not violate your right to a private vote.
  • It is advised to call ahead of time to notify them that you will be voting curbside.

An accessible ballot marking device is available at all polling places.  

  • Voters use features on the AutoMARK or OVI such as a touch screen, an audio component, and/or a sip and puff element to select their candidates.
  • The device will then complete the ovals on the ballot. It also lets voters review and change their vote before the ballot is marked.
What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Iowa?
  • You may request assistance from a poll worker or receive assistance from a person of your choice (at home or at the polling location) with the following exceptions:  
    • your employer, an agent of your employer
    • an officer or agent of your union
    • a candidate on the ballot
       
  • You will be asked to sign a form showing you asked for help.
     
  • If you are not physically able to sign the forms, you can use a rubber stamp or mark to sign. You may also ask for assistance or have someone sign the form on your behalf as long as it is in your presence and with your permission.
     
  • A poll worker cannot force you to accept assistance.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Iowa prior to Election Day?

Iowa uses four accessible voting machines. A PDF list of what is available in each county is available. 

Iowa also offers video tutorials for each of the voting machines used in the state:

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Iowa?

The Elections Division can be contacted in the following ways:

  • General Phone Number: 515-281-0145
  • Toll Free Phone Number: 1-888-SOS-VOTE (1-888-767-8683)
  • TTY: Call 711 followed by 515-281-0145
  • Fax Number: 515-281-4682
  • Email: sos@sos.iowa.gov

You can also fill out a Violation of Civil Rights Complaint Form and submit it to the US Department of Justice by one of the following methods:

  • Online, through the form’s submission process - this is the fastest method.
     
  • By fax at (202) 616-9881. You MUST include “ATTN: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaints" at the top of your fax submission for it to be processed correctly.
     
  • By mailing your form to: 

                 U.S. Department of Justice
                 Office of the Inspector General Investigations Division
                 ATTN: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
                 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
                 Washington, DC 20530

For additional assistance, The National Network of ADA Centers can provide local contact information for other organizations you may wish to contact, including your Regional ADA Center or ADA Knowledge Translation Center, or Federal Agencies and Resources.

Additional Resources

If you have a vision impairment, you can call 888-SOS-VOTE (888-767-8683) or email support@sos.iowa.gov to receive accessible information and services.

If you have questions not answered in this guide, please contact your local election official or try the Iowa FAQs below.