Voting in 2021

Local elections.

They're important.

This year in particular. Iowa communities are building back from the derecho, American Rescue Plan municipal aid is going to get used, and a range of issues like water quality, school curricula, land use, infrastructure, and public safety policy remain evergreen.

So we gathered information about 2021 elections in service areas where we have chapters.

But first, everyone's favorite: a tutorial on how to vote.

Graphic: papers

Step 1.

Register to vote in Iowa.

You can register online or by mail

The 2021 pre-registration deadline for city and shcool elections on November 2nd is Monday, October 18, 2021; you can register to vote on election day at your polling place if you bring ID with you.

Graphic: mail envelope

Step 2.

(Optional) Request an absentee ballot by mail.

If you are unable to vote in person on election day, vote absentee by mail or absentee in person.

Here's more information on absentee voting in Iowa.

graphic: calendar icon

Step 3.

Make a plan to vote.

Resources are available online or in-person from County Auditors on where polling places are.

Polling places for all elections in 2021 are open from 7 AM to 8 PM.

garphic: ballot box with vote written on the front.

Step 4.


Make sure to bring a form of ID if you're voting in person!

Registering to vote

Note: you must have a valid Iowa ID to register to vote online, if you do not have an Iowa ID you can register by mail by filing out a voter registration form and mailing it to your county auditor.

College students may register at their college address, or their “permanent” home address, but not both. If registering with a college address, you may use a housing contract to meet the definition of “residential lease.” The contract must: 
    • Be effective for the current semester or term (with a specific date)
    • List the student’s name
    • Provide the building name where the student lives and a room number, if applicable

For a student at an Iowa community college or public university, "other government documents" that can be used to prove residency in the precinct include:
    • A printed page from an online student directory
    • A printed page from an online college or university billing
   • A copy of the residence hall contract

The above forms must be current and must list the student's name and local address.

*information from the Polk County Auditor

Which offices are up for election?

City and school board offices, which include elections for city mayors, council members, public school district boards, and community college boards of trustees.

We made a list!

Go to for a list of offices up for election in 2021 with service areas where we have CYDI chapters.

Some dates to know:

City Primaries

Monday, September 20th, 2021

This is the final day folks can register to vote in city primary elections before October 5th, as well as the day requests for Absentee Ballots for city primaries must be returned to your County Auditor.

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Primary day in cities with primary provisions.

Regular Elections 2021

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Voter pre-registration deadline. This is the last day you can register to vote before election day, as well as the day requests for Absentee Ballots for city and school elections must be returned to your County Auditor.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Election day for regular city and school elections. Polling places will be open from 7 AM - 8 PM.

Folks may register to vote at the polls, but be sure to bring ID.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Date for city runoff elections.

Who administers elections in 2021?

County Auditors administer local elections.

Source: Iowa Secretary of State

Want to get more involved?

Here are a few ideas.

Audience at a speaking event

Campaign volunteering

Knock doors! Attend events! Help candidates get on the ballot! Candidates for local races have a diverse range of social media outreach operations. Many mayoral and city council candidates have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Some local public or private groups will host forums and post candidate surveys online.

newspaper icon

Local Media

Local news media are one reference point to use when beginning to plug in to local politics.

C.Y.D.I. logo


Connect with other young activists through existing College, High School, and Young Professionals chapters, or reach out to start a new one! CYDI is one way to build community with other young folks invested in progressive movements.

Voting isn't enough. What's the rest of CYDI's strategy?

Here's our thinking.

Sign up for CYDI News & Event Alerts