Voting After A Criminal Conviction FAQs

Do I have to have paid back restitution or fees or fines in order to vote?

No. You do not have to have paid these off or be on a payment plan to pay off fines, fees, or restitution in order to vote. You only have to have discharged your sentence.

Do note that your obligation to pay restitution and other fees and fines hasn’t gone away; those debts simply are no longer tied to your ability to vote.

In Iowa, does an aggravated misdemeanor mean I can’t vote?

Years ago, that was the case. But the law has changed. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor (simple, serious, or aggravated), you can vote. Even if you’re still in jail because of a misdemeanor, you can still vote by absentee ballot.

What if I have a deferred judgment for a felony? Can I vote?

Yes. A deferred judgment isn’t yet a conviction. If you have a deferred judgment, you can vote, even though you may not be out of the probation period for that deferred judgment. 

However, if you didn’t complete your probation and the felony conviction was entered against you, you will need to wait until you discharge your sentence for that felony in order to vote. 

What if I have a felony in another state? 

Different states have different rules about voting after a felony conviction. For example, some states never take away the right to vote after a felony. Other states restore voting rights to people as long as they aren’t incarcerated.
There are three different ways an out of state felony conviction could impact your ability to vote in Iowa.
If the state where you have a felony either 1) restored your voting rights or 2) never took away your voting rights in the first place, you can vote in Iowa. 
You can vote even if you’re on probation or parole from that state but were allowed to move to Iowa. 
If the state where you have a felony 3) has not restored your voting rights in that state, then you follow the same rules as someone who has a felony in Iowa. That means you can vote in Iowa once you discharge your sentence, including completing any probation or parole.
However, note that your restoration of voting rights in Iowa only applies in Iowa. It won’t apply back in the state of your felony conviction, if you move back there.

If I have a homicide felony, is there a way for me to vote? 

Yes. You can apply to the Governor’s office to have your right to vote restored. Click here for the application form to restore your voting rights (downloads as a PDF)

Questions? Check with your parole officer or county auditor.