Can a Felon Vote in Iowa?

The United States of American admitted the Iowa as its 29th state on December 28, 1846, with Des Moines as its capital. Its name was derived from the Iowa Native American who once inhabited the land.

As of the latest update on prison statistics of the Department of Correction of Iowa, there are 38,772 law offenders. It is approximately 1.25% of Iowa’s population, composed of 8290 incarcerated in institutions and 30,482 serving community based corrections.

The right to suffrage is considered as one of the most important basic civil right because it enables a person to choose a leader to represent his ideals. Denying this right is an infringement of a person’s liberty.

Can Felons Vote in Iowa?

Prisoners are temporarily disenfranchised during their term of incarceration. Probationers and felons on parole are also disenfranchised according to the state’s felon voting law.

Evidently, the gravity of the offense is not put into consideration under this particular felon voting law. Petty criminals who are sentenced for community-based corrections are treated similarly with offenses sentenced to a term of incarceration.

Moreover, on January 14, 2011, Republican Governor Terry Branstad rescinded the law that automatically restores voting right to felons who have completed their legal sentence. This was against the former law that Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack instituted in 2005.

Under the new law, felons must pay all monetary obligations to the state regardless of the gravity of the offense or the completion of their legal sentence. Afterwards, they have to apply for the restitution of their voting rights.

How Can Felons Restore Voting Rights in Iowa?

Iowa stands as the only state that requires complete payment from ex-felons before allowing them to apply for the restoration of their voting rights. Application for the restoration of voting rights follows these steps:

  • Ex-felons must accomplish the application form for the restoration of voting rights; a printable copy is available at the website of the Office of the Governor of Iowa.
  • They must also attach a dated and signed copy of the Release to the application form
  • Also, they must include all proofs of payment of all fines and court costs, and the most recent copy of current Iowa Criminal History Record
  • Ex-felons must make sure that they have their own copy of every document
  • Place all the documents in an envelope and mail to the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa


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