Celebrating the right to vote

Voting is our country’s most fundamental mode of civic participation.

This week, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote—the 19th amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920—and with it, the ongoing march toward full equality and citizenship for all Americans.

One-hundred years later, we have another voting rights victory to celebrate: Iowa will no longer automatically institute a lifetime ban on voting for all Iowans convicted of any felony. Iowa is the last state in the country to take this step.

Earlier this month, Governor Reynolds issued Executive Order 7, restoring the right to vote and hold public office for thousands of Iowans who have completed their felony sentences. The Governor has also vowed to continue pushing for a constitutional amendment, which is only way to ensure the right to vote remains permanent.

A constitutional amendment has been delayed time and again by Iowa Senate Republicans who have failed to support efforts to restore voting rights, even after their counterparts in the Iowa House secured a 95-2 vote in favor of this key bipartisan priority.

With the General Election quickly approaching, an executive order is the best way to make heard the voices of more citizens in our communities.

The NAACP has been active for decades in pushing for voting rights because racial disparities in our criminal justice system disproportionately impact African Americans and other people of color. To ensure the Governor’s executive order allows all eligible Iowans to vote in November’s election, the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP is calling for additional steps.

The organization has asked Iowa the Secretary of State to immediately update voting and elections information on his website, on voter registration forms and in the state’s Voter Ready Toolkit. It’s important for all materials to accurately reflect that most people with a felony record are now eligible to register to vote and cast a ballot, and to provide the information they need to do so.

Prepare to vote by mail

If you haven’t already requested your vote-by-mail ballot for the November election, now is the time. More and more Iowans are voting by mail because it’s safe, quick and convenient.

3 steps to vote by mail

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address at sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterinformation.
  2. Fill in the vote-by-mail request form you received in the mail from the county auditor, or download one at sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf. Fill it out carefully and sign it.
  3. Mail or deliver your vote-by-mail request form to your county auditor. Their contact information is available at sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html.