Iowa Is Just One of Three States That Automatically Takes Away the Right to Vote for Criminal Convictions 

If you have a felony conviction in your background, in Iowa, you may not be able to vote. That makes Iowa just one of three states, along with Kentucky and Florida, that permanently takes away a person's constitutional right to vote. The only way to restore that right is through a process that needs the approval of the Iowa governor.

This situation, while shameful, is at least better than it was. It used to be that even those Iowans with aggravated misdemeanors were disqualified from voting, unless the governor restored their right. But now, after a 2014 Iowa Supreme Court Ruling, Chido v. Section 43.24 Panel, misdemeanors of any kind (simple, serious, or aggravated) do not disqualify a voter. If you have only a misdemeanor conviction, you can vote.

Click here for the ACLU of Iowa's detailed guide on how to determine if you can vote in Iowa and if not, how to get your right to vote restored. Forms are included. 

You completed your felony sentence before July 4, 2005

Your rights have been restored. You can vote.

You completed your felony sentence after July 4, 2005 but before January 14, 2011

Your right to vote was probably automatically restored—but if you never received notice in the mail after you completed your sentence, you should check with the Office of the Governor at 515-281-5211. The Governor’s Office maintains a list of people whose right to vote was restored.

You completed your felony sentence after January 14, 2011

You cannot vote until the Governor restores your right to vote.

To apply to the Governor to have your right to vote restored, click here For more information, visit the Governor's Office's website on restoration of voting rights or call them at 515-281-5211.

Some key points in restoring your right to vote:

  • When your right to vote is restored, you will receive an official restoration of rights in the mail. 
  • After your right to vote is restored, you must still register to vote in your precinct. You can pre-register to vote by mail or at your county auditor’s office. There is a deadline before an election. If you haven’t pre-registered by that deadline, you can register and vote at your polling place on Election Day. 

Click here for the ACLU of Iowa's guide to determining if you can vote after a criminal conviction and if not, how to get your right to vote restored.

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