As of August 5, 2020, most Iowans who have a felony conviction are eligible to vote as long as they have discharged their sentences, including probation, parole, supervised release, and special sentence.
That's a new development. Until that date, Iowa took away voting rights for Iowans convicted of any felony, for life.* But that changed with Gov. Kim Reynolds signing an executive order, restoring voting eligibility for most of those with felony convictions.
You are eligible to vote in Iowa IF:
- You have discharged your sentence, meaning you’re not incarcerated, not on probation, parole, supervised release, or are subject to a special sentence.
- You were not convicted of any felony under Chapter 707. Some examples of those felonies are: murder, voluntary manslaughter, felony involuntary manslaughter, and homicide, or serious injury by a vehicle. A complete list can be found in Iowa Code Chapter 707.**
You do not have to have paid in full or be on a payment plan to pay off fines, fees, or restitution. Your obligation to pay those hasn’t gone away; those debts simply are no longer tied to your ability to vote.
And you must meet the other general requirements to vote in Iowa:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be an Iowa resident.
- Be at least 18 years old on Election Day.
In order to vote, you must first register to vote. Here's how.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor (simple, serious, or aggravated), you never lost your right to vote and can vote. If you’re still in jail, you can vote by absentee ballot.
*You were able to apply individually to the Governor's office to restore your voting rights, but the number of those who did so was small compared to the tens of thousands of people who were disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.
**If you were convicted of one of these felony homicides in Chapter 707, you can still apply to have your voting rights restored through the Iowa Governor's office.