Frequently Asked Questions


County Auditor & Court House
227 South 6th Street
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501

Office Hours

8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Monday - Friday

Phone Numbers

Office: 712.328.5700
Fax: 712.328.4740
TDD: 712.328.5634 or 800.735.2942
Email: Pottawattamie County Elections

Types of Elections


A General Election is the election in which federal and state officers, members of Congress and of the general assembly, county and township officers, and other officers appear on the ballot. General Elections are held the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November of each even-numbered year.
The Primary Election is an election to determine which candidates will qualify for the General Election for a given party.  In Iowa you must be a member of the political party of which you wish to vote for in order to participate; known as a “closed primary”. The primary election is held on the 1st Tuesday following the 1st Monday in June of each even-numbered year.
Beginning in 2019, School and City Elections will be combined and held  in November of odd-numbered years.  A City election is used to elect the Mayor and Council Members and any other elected city officials.  In Pottawattamie, the cities of Carter Lake and Council Bluffs have provisions where if enough candidates file to run for Mayor or City Council a city primary election would be held in October to determine the candidates for the regular city election in November.  The city of Avoca has a runoff  election provision.  A School Election is an election to select School Board members for school districts within Pottawattamie County.
A Special Election is any election that is not regularly scheduled.  A special election may be held for any purpose authorized or required by law; often to fill a vacancy or for a public measure.
 Caucus The Iowa Caucuses are most commonly known for the role they play in selecting each political party’s nominee for president every four years.  Under Iowa law, the Iowa Caucuses are the first event in the presidential nomination season in the country. The Caucuses are also held in non-presidential even numbered years and serve mainly for the purpose of selecting local party leadership and delegates to the party’s conventions. The Caucuses are under the direction of the different state political parties and the Election Department within the Auditor’s office plays no role in their administration.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is Voter ID?
Starting in 2019, voters must provide an ID when going to vote.  Voters who do not have ID will be allowed to either cast a provisional ballot or have another registered voter attest to their identification.  There are 6 approved types of identification that may be used:  an Iowa Driver’s License or Non-Operator ID, a Voter ID issued by the Secretary of State or the Auditor’s Office, a current US Passport, a US Military ID, a US Veteran’s ID, or a Tribal ID.

What if I don’t have an ID?
Registered voters who do not have an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator’s ID were issued a voter ID card.  Voter ID cards must be signed before going to the polls.  The new voter ID card will contain a PIN number that will be used for voting purposes.  If you should have a voter ID card and do not, please contact our office to have one sent to you.

Do I have to vote for everything on the ballot? 
No.  You can vote for as much or as little as you would like; it’s all up to you!

Can I get a new ballot if I make a mistake or lose my ballot?
Yes.  If you make a mistake on an absentee ballot mark your return envelope “Spoiled” and return it to the Auditor’s office either by mail or in person.  If you return it by mail contact the Auditor’s office to be sent a new one.

On Election Day if you make a mistake on your ballot, return it to the poll worker to receive a new one.  You are allowed up to three ballots so don’t make too many mistakes!

If I change my mind on who I want to vote for after I have returned my ballot, can I get a new one?
No.  If you have already retuned your absentee ballot to the Auditor’s office you may not request a new ballot if you have changed your mind on who you wish to vote for.

Where do I vote at?
Where you vote is determined by where you live and you must vote in the precinct to which you are assigned for your ballot to be counted.   To find your polling place please visit the Polling Places page on our website.

Can I take a picture of/with my ballot?
Polling place selfies are allowed so long as it doesn’t interfere with others voting.

Can I vote for someone that is not on the ballot?
Yes.  For each race on the ballot a line is provided for you to write-in the name of someone for whom you wish to vote for.

Can anyone get access to voter registration lists?
Under Iowa law we are required to sell voter lists for political purposes.

If I chose a party do I have to vote for all of their candidates?
Depends on the election.  In primary elections you can only vote for candidates from the party to which you belong.  In general elections you are free to vote for anyone you like, regardless of their party affiliation.

Can an independent vote in a primary election?
Yes and No.  In Iowa you must be a member of a political party (in 2020: Republican and Democrat) to vote in a primary election.  However, anyone can change parties on Election Day and vote.  For independents to vote they must declare a political party.



How do I update my address?
If you have moved recently and need to update your address for voting, all you have to do is fill out a new voter registration form and submit it to the Auditor’s office.

Do I have to register to vote for every election?
No.  You would only need to re-register if your information has changed and you need to update it.

Can someone with a previous felony conviction vote?
Those with a prior felony conviction are only permitted to vote if their voting rights have been restored by the Governor.  For more information about restoration of rights, contact the Governor’s office or visit the voter registration page on our website.

Can I update my voter registration over the phone?
No.  All updates to voter registration must be made in writing or online through the Iowa DOT if you have an Iowa driver’s license.

I just registered and received a card in the mail but there is a mistake on it; what do I do now?
If you notice a mistake on your voter card please contact the Auditor’s Office and/or submit a new registration form to correct your information.

Can a homeless person register to vote?
Yes.  Any eligible voter in Iowa may register to vote.  Because many of those who are homeless have a nontraditional address they just need to provide an address or description of where they sleep the most, wherever that may be.

I registered as an independent; why does my card say “NP” or “No Party”?
Iowa does not recognize an “independent” party.  Instead, “No Party” is used to indicate a lack of affiliation with a political party.



Do I need to sign the return envelope of my absentee ballot?
Yes!  Your absentee ballot cannot be counted unless you have signed the affidavit envelope that you return your ballot in.  If we receive a ballot back that has not been signed we will attempt to contact to you to get this fixed.

Can I pick up or request a ballot for someone else?
No.  In Iowa you can only request an absentee ballot for yourself.

Do absentee ballots even get counted?
Yes.  There is a myth that absentee ballots only get counted if the election is close, however this is not true.  Under Iowa law every ballot must be counted; in fact, absentee ballots are the first vote results reported on election night.

Can I request an absentee ballot by email or fax?
Yes.  You may request an absentee ballot via email or fax and a ballot will be mailed to you.  However, in order for your ballot to be counted you must also mail in or drop off the original paper ballot request.

What is the last day I can turn in my absentee ballot?
You are allowed to hand deliver your ballot to the Auditor’s office up until the time the polls close on Election Day.  If you return your ballot through the mail your ballot must be postmarked by the day before the election.

Can someone else return my absentee ballot for me?
Yes.  You may permit anyone to return your absentee ballot for you.  You may also request a receipt from the person returning your ballot.

Can I use power of attorney to request a ballot for my spouse, child or parent?
No.  Under Iowa law, power of attorney does not apply for all election related matters.


Election Day

Do I need to show ID to vote?

  • Beginning January 1, 2019, Iowa voters will be required to show a driver’s license, non-driver’s ID, passport, military ID, veterans ID, Tibal ID or Voter ID Card at the polls before they vote.  Voters, starting in 2019, without an ID may cast a provisional ballot or have another registered voter attest to their identity.


What if I lost my ID or forgot to take one with me to the polls?
Starting in 2019, if you do not have you ID with you, you may either cast  a provisional ballot or have another registered voter attest to their identity.

What is a provisional ballot?
If a voter’s eligibility is in question on Election Day they are allowed to cast a provisional ballot.  After the voter marks their ballot and returns it to the poll worker, the voter is required to provide the necessary identification or documentation to the Auditor’s office.  If it is determined that you do have the right to vote in the precinct in which you voted your ballot will then be counted and included in the final vote total.

Can I get help marking my ballot?
Yes.  If you need assistance filling out your ballot ask a poll worker for help.  A team of one republican and one democrat will come over and help you mark your ballot.  Also available in each polling location is a ballot marking device that will read you all of the choices and then print out your marked ballot.

Can I register to vote on Election Day?
Yes.  Iowa law allows for Election Day registration if you are able to provide proof of identification (i.e. valid photo ID) and proof of residency (i.e. utility bill with your name on it if your ID has an outdated address on it).  If you are unable to provide one or both of these you are allowed to bring someone with you to attest that you have the right to vote.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?
Starting in January of 2019 you will be required to show identification. If you need to register to vote on Election Day  you must bring proof of identification and proof of residency.

I can’t get out of my car; can someone bring me a ballot to vote from there?
Yes.  If you are unable to go inside the polling place a team of election workers will be sent out to your car to help you vote.

I’m already registered but my information needs updated; can I do that on Election Day?
Yes.  While it is recommended that you update your information prior to Election Day to speed things up at the polls, you may wait and do so on Election Day.  If you are updating your address just make sure you are going to the polling place for your new address.  When updating your address you will now need to provide proof of identity and proof of residency.

What if I’m still waiting in line when the polls close?
So long as you are in line to vote at the time the polls close you will be allowed to vote. 

Can I take my absentee ballot to the polls on Election Day and vote there?
Yes.  If you have not returned your absentee ballot you may go to your polling place on Election Day and vote a regular ballot.

I lost my absentee ballot; can I just go vote on Election Day?
Yes.  When you go to vote, a poll worker will verify with the auditor’s office that your absentee ballot has not been returned.  If it is confirmed that the auditor’s office has not received a ballot from you then you will be given a new ballot to vote there.


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The HOPE 4 IOWA Crisis Call Line connects individuals in crisis to a helping hand and the resources to address and improve mental wellness. Available 24/7. For more information visit our website here.








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Pottawattamie County Emergency Notification System

Pottawattamie Alert is the countywide emergency notification system serving all residents within Pottawattamie County and its communities.

Part of the Alert Iowa System, Pottawattamie Alert is a high-speed notification and weather warning service. This no-charge service is available to businesses and residents of Pottawattamie County and its Communities that allows public officials to warn citizens of pending emergencies, critical public information during disasters, recommended protective actions, and provides automated severe weather warnings tailored to your preferences. The system can also be used to provide other important information to communities.