Voter Preparation: What You Need to Know Before You Head to the Polls

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The line was out the door at the election office in downtown Des Moines Monday as early voters take advantage of their final day.

The polls officially open Tuesday; from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. Iowans can vote. It’s the second longest polling hours in the country reaching a total of 14 hours, only New York is longer.

The Secretary of State’s office is wanting everyone to keep in mind one important change.

“The one thing we want people to remember is this year is the soft roll out for the Voter ID Law. So you will be asked to show ID at the polls,” Kevin Hall, the Communications Director for the Secretary of State, Paul Pate, said. But if you forget your ID, you’re still in luck.

“You can sign an Oath of Identity and you’ll be able to cast a regular ballot. That’s as long as you’re pre-registered to vote in that precinct,” Hall said.

If you didn’t pre-register that’s okay as well. Iowa is one of 15 states that makes same day voter registration available on Election Day. All you need is a few simple items.

“You will need to bring a photo ID and you will need to bring proof of residency, like a utility bill or something like that,” Hall said. A new law this year allows that proof of residency to also be in electronic format.

“You can have your utility bill through email, if you’re able to pull it up through your smart phone, you can show that to them as your proof of residency,” he added.

Companies are also helping this voting process become easier than ever. “We really wanted to insure that Central Iowans that want to vote have a way to get there,” DART’s Marketing and Communications Director, Erin Hockman said.

DART is offering free rides on Election Day for the first time. All you have to do is find your polling location at SOS.Iowa.gov or VoterReadyIowa.org, and then use the My DART App to learn which routes you should take to get there. DART will even offer free rides to polling locations for para-transit riders who call and schedule their ride in advance.

“To see companies step up and help people make it to the polls, we think that’s a great thing,” Hall said.

The YMCA of Des Moines is also bringing back their free short-term care for all children on Election Day.

“It’s been done at different Y’s across the country,” Terry Feldt, the Executive Director of the Wellmark YMCA said. “We’re a part of the community and we want to help out any way we can and what better way than to help out parents that need to put their children somewhere and go out and vote.”

Hall says it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to get you in and out of your polling place and voted, but remember it may take a little bit longer to fill out your ticket since Legislature did away with straight ticket voting this year.

Click Here to find your polling location for Election Day.

Click Here for more information on the YMCA’s Learn and Play Centers that are offering free child-care.

Click Here to find more information on DART’s free rides on Election Day.