What you need to know about voting in 2018

by Travis Fischer

The 2018 General Election is fast approaching and, in some cases, may be the most significant mid-term election in a generation.

Tight races in United States Representative Districts could shift the balance of power in Washington D.C., while the Gubernatorial contest and state legislature races will determine the future of Iowa’s legislative path.

Iowa has a long history of being politically active. Historically, roughly 50-60 percent of Iowa’s eligible voters participate in mid-term elections, ranking the state relatively high in terms of citizens performing their civic duty.

“We’re in the top six in the nation in terms of voter participation,” said Ken Kline. “Iowans take elections seriously.”

After many years of service as the County Auditor for Cerro Gordo County, Kline has spent the last several months getting accustomed to his new position as Deputy Commissioner of Elections for the Iowa Secretary of State. While each individual county is largely responsible for conducting elections, the Iowa Secretary of State office is there to provide support and training materials for election workers.

New training and procedures have become particularly relevant for this year’s election.

In 2017, the Iowa Legislature passed a sweeping reform of state election law, modifying the rules that govern both voters and election officials, making it easier to vote in some ways but harder to vote in others, sparking legal cases against some of the new provisions.

Several provisions of the law were enjoined in July, which was later upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court following a lawsuit against the state, including injunctions on granting election officials the authority to reject absentee ballots on the basis of signature matching and preventing the Secretary of State from implying that identification will be required when voting in 2018.

Navigating the new laws, and the suspension of some of them, has been a complex endeavor but the ultimate goal of Kline’s work is still straight forward.

“Some of the main messages we have stressed is that no eligible voters are turned away,” said Kline. “We are sending out 300,000 individual mailings to people who are not-registered and encouraging them to register and participate.”


The first step in the voting process is registration.

Before you vote, county officials appreciate knowing who is coming to the polls. On the day of the election, county auditors will update their county’s electronic poll books with the most recent registration data and distribute them to their proper polling stations. These books contain

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