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A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because ‘Students Lean More Toward the Democrats’
10/25/16 |
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 09:30

Green Bay’s refusal to put a polling place at the campus is indicative of the Wisconsin GOP’s broader attack on student voting. Under Wisconsin’s strict voter-ID law, student IDs from most public and private universities and colleges are not accepted because they don’t feature signatures or a two-year expiration date, compared to a ten-year expiration for driver’s licenses. Only three of twenty-six schools in the University of Wisconsin system offer compliant IDs, according to Common Cause Wisconsin.

That means many schools, including the University of Wisconsin–Madison, must issue separate IDs for students to use only for voting, an expensive and time-consuming process for students and administrators. To get the new IDs, students also have to bring proof of enrollment from their schools, an extra burden of proof that applies only to younger voters. They must additionally provide proof of residency when they register, which can be difficult for students who live in group apartments and do not have a utility bill or lease in their name. 

Why Struck-Down Voter ID Laws Trouble Would-Be Voters
10/25/16 |
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 01:00

Despite a string of court victories against restrictive voting laws passed by Republican legislatures, even when voting rights groups win in court, they are at risk of losing on the ground. ...

Last month in Texas, a federal court that invalidated that state’s voter ID law in July ordered recalcitrant state officials to change their public education campaign on new ID rules. The reason: Critics complained that the campaign muddied the central point of the court’s ruling, that voters without a state-approved ID could simply sign an affidavit to cast a ballot. In Kansas, the chief elections official, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, agreed last month to add nearly 20,000 properly registered voters to the state’s rolls only after being threatened with contempt of court. ...

[B]arely two weeks earlier, [Wisconsin officials] had maintained in a report to the court that the ID process was running smoothly and that clerks in motor vehicle offices had been trained to deal with applicants.

That claim was belied when Molly McGrath, the national coordinator for the voting rights group VoteRiders, dispatched her mother to request help in getting an ID at 10 motor vehicle offices across the state. Few could navigate the application process. 

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Iowa Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: October 29, 2016 (but Election Day registration is also permitted)

For more information, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. central time on Election Day.

You can also vote early by casting an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office.  Absentee ballots will be available at the county auditors’ offices no earlier than 40 days before Election Day.

You can also request an absentee ballot by mail. An absentee ballot request form can be downloaded here. The request form must be received by the county auditor’s office by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.

How to Find Your Polling Place:   Visit the Iowa Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page.


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines: The deadline to pre-register to vote is 10 days before the General Election. The deadline for this year’s General Election is Saturday, October 29.  County auditors’ offices will open from 8:00 am until at least 5:00 pm on the day registration closes. A registration form submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than 15 days before the General Election (which is October 24), and will be accepted even if the registration form is received after the deadline, or be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day registration closes (October 29), even if the registration form is postmarked after the 15th day before the election.

OR, a voter can register to vote in person at the polls on Election Day.

How to Check Your Registration: Use Iowa’s registrant search website or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility:  To be qualified to register to vote in Iowa you must:

  • Be a citizen of United States
  • Be an Iowa resident
  • Be at least eighteen years of age by Election Day
  • Not claim the right to vote in more than one place
  • Not be convicted of a felony, or if so convicted in the past, have your rights restored.
  • Not be declared incompetent to vote

How to Register: To register, you must complete a voter registration application and deliver it to your county auditor’s office.

You can also register to vote in person on Election Day by completing a voter registration application, making a written oath, and providing proof of identity and residence

Identification Required for Registration:

Voters may register by mail without identification, but may be asked to provide identification when they vote at the polls.

A voter registering at their polling place on Election Day may present an Iowa driver’s license, or if they do not have an Iowa driver’s license, may use a current, valid photo ID that contains an expiration date.  The following are acceptable IDs:

  • Iowa non-driver ID card;
  • Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card;
  • U.S. passport;
  • U.S. military ID;
  • ID card issued by an employer; and
  • Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college

If the photo ID presented does not contain the voter’s current address in the precinct, the voter shall also present one of the following documents showing the voter’s name and current address in the precinct:

  • Residential lease
  • Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
  • Bank statement
  • Paycheck
  • Government check or other government document

See the Iowa Secretary of State’s Identification Requirements poster here.  The identification requirements for inactive or pending voters are slightly different than the identification requirement for voters who register to vote on Election Day. 

You may cast an absentee ballot in person at your county auditor’s office before Election Day.  Absentee ballots will be available at the county auditors’ offices no earlier than 40 days before Election Day.

You can also request an absentee ballot by mail. An absentee ballot request form can be downloaded here. The request form must be received by the county auditor’s office by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. 

You can return your absentee ballot by mail.  Absentee ballots received in the county auditor’s office by the time the polls close on Election Day are eligible for counting. Absentee ballots received after the polls close on Election Day must be postmarked by the Monday before Election Day and received in the county auditor’s office no later than noon on the Monday following Election Day. 

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

You may be asked to show identification when you go to vote if:

  • You are registering to vote at your precinct on Election Day;
  • You registered to vote by mail and have never voted in a federal election in your county;
  • You have moved from where you are registered to vote;
  • Your right to vote has been challenged; or
  • The precinct election officials do not know you.

The following are acceptable unless you are registering to vote on Election Day (see above for the identification requirements for Election Day registration):

  • Non-expired photo ID (which may list a previous address);
  • Bank statement with current address;
  • Utility bill, including a cell phone bill, with current address;
  • Paycheck or government check with current address; or
  • Other government document with current address.

VoteRiders has created Iowa voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same County

If a voter moves within the same precinct, or to a different precinct within the same county, and has not updated their registration information, the voter should go to the polling place that corresponds with their new address and update their registration information by completing a new voter registration form using the new address and supplying ID to indicate the new address.

Moving Between Counties

If a voter moves to a different county and has not updated their registration information, the voter should go to the polling place that corresponds with their new address.  The voter will need to re-register at that polling place, and may do so on Election Day.

Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting by mail, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and merchant marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together these groups are called UOCAVA voters).

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) Iowa-specific FCPA page.

UOCAVA voters may also register to vote and request an absentee ballot from their county auditor.  Information can be found here.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may receive their ballot by mail, email, or fax. Ballots must be returned by mail; some military voters may be eligible to return ballots by email or fax.  Information can be found here.  Please also see FVAP’s Iowa-specific FCPA page

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities.  You may vote a FWAB if you requested a regular absentee ballot more than 14 days prior to Election Day but have not received it.  If you are eligible to return your FWAB by email or fax, your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in Iowa by the time the polls close (9 p.m. Central Time) on Election Day.  Email addresses and fax numbers are available on here (scroll down after you click the link).  Otherwise, your FWAB must be postmarked the day before Election Day, and received by the Monday following Election Day.  For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s Iowa-specific FCPA page.

In Iowa, a person’s voter registration is cancelled if the person is convicted of a felony. Voting rights may be restored by application to the Governor’s Office after completion of the sentence, any required probation, parole, or supervised release, and all court costs, fees, and restitutions have been paid.

The Governor’s Office is responsible for the restoration of voting rights. For more information, call the Governor’s Office at 515-281-5211 or visit their Restoration of Rights website


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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2016 Election Information for your state