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Do Your Research Before Voting

Voting Research

October 19, 2020

Each election cycle, the Greater Des Moines Partnership hosts a series of forums for candidates running for federal office and for the role of governor every four years. The goal is to connect our Members and Investors to those willing to put their name on the ballot and to ask questions important to the business community and community at large. Moving to a virtual format in 2020 due to the global pandemic, meant easier access to candidates, allowing The Partnership to host all 10 Democratic and Republican candidates running for federal office.

While we choose to limit the number of forums we offer, each cycle there is a conversation about third-party candidates. This cycle was no different. Many do not realize there are nine presidential candidates on the 2020 ballot in Iowa. There are four candidates running for the U.S. Senate in Iowa and three running for Iowa’s Third Congressional District.

It is not easy putting one’s name on the ballot and running for office. It takes a lot of time, money and courage. Therefore, we recognize the value in sharing information about ALL candidates running for office. With that in mind, The Partnership worked with Vote Smart to develop a listing of all candidates running for congress from the state of Iowa. This document provides resources for voters to educate themselves on more than the major party candidates.

Arguably, the further down the ballot one looks, the more impact those elected will have on our day-to-day lives. Our state government determines funding for our roads and the speed limits we should drive, and local governments vote on our property tax rates and the curriculum taught in our schools. The decisions made at each level of government are important, so it’s equally important to study the entire ballot.

With absentee voting starting in Iowa, there are a few resources to check out in advance of casting your vote. Follow along to do your research before penciling in those bubbles.

Start by Identifying Your Precinct

Go to sos.iowa.gov/elections, type in your address and find your precinct and polling place.

Review Your Ballot

Now that you have a precinct number, go to the website of your county auditor. For counties in The Partnership footprint, find your county auditor website:

  • Adair County*
  • Dallas County
  • Guthrie County*
  • Jasper County
  • Madison County
  • Marion County
  • Marshall County
  • Poweshiek County
  • Polk County
  • Warren County

Find the link for sample ballots on the respective page to begin researching the individuals running for office. Not every website will have sample ballots (those marked with a * did NOT have sample ballots available online at the time we checked), so you may need to call your auditor to find out who else is on the ballot.

What Else Is On There?

Beyond voting for president and congress, state legislative candidates and county officials can be found on the ballot. For research on state and local candidates, a search on local news sites and a simple internet search may provide information about candidates and their stances on the issues in which they will be voting.

In addition to the partisan offices, there are non-partisan positions on ballots in most of Iowa. These may be a property-taxing entity such as a county hospital or community college, or it may be a non-partisan elected position to a county board, such as the Soil and Water Conservation District Commission.

Don’t Forget to Turn Your Ballot Over!

Iowa has a merit selection system for the judicial branch of government. Justices are appointed by the governor and listed on the ballot every so many years, standing for retention, as approved by Iowa voters. A simple yes or no is requested for each of the justices appearing on the ballot. Information about Iowa justices is compiled by the Iowa Judicial Branch and can be found here. Additionally, the Iowa Bar Association does judicial performance review, led by Iowa attorneys, which can be found here.

You’re not done! Every 10 years, Iowans are given an opportunity to vote on the following question — “Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?” A yes or no question, Iowans have the opportunity to vote for a convention convened by the Iowa Legislature in the upcoming legislative session.

Time to Vote

Now that you have completed your research, it’s time to request your absentee ballot by Saturday, October 24, vote early at your county auditor’s office or prepare to vote in person on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

The Partnership's Public Policy team engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The Partnership is a nonpartisan organization.

Andrea Woodard

Andrea Woodard is the senior vice president of government relations and public policy at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.