Dates and deadlines
A primary is an election that takes place within each official political
party. No one is elected in a primary election. Instead, voters
affiliated with political parties will select their party's candidates for
the November 6 general election.
Only the full-status parties hold primaries, and only voters who register with a party may vote in the primary.
Voters can only participate in one party's primary.
Voters may change party at any time.
Three parties will have primaries in 2018: the Democratic and Republican parties and, for the first time, the Libertarian Party, which earned full party status in 2016. (The Green Party has "organization" status, which means people can register as Greens but the party does not have a primary.)
Overseas voters who register as Green or No Party will not be sent ballots for the June 5 primary. If you are registered as No Party or Green and want to vote in the primary, please contact our office.
Offices On The Ballot
U.S. Representative, 2nd District, two year term.
Iowa's U.S. Senate seats are not on the 2018 ballot. Senator Ernst's term expires in 2020 and Senator Grassley's term expires in 2022.
All terms four years.
Lieutenant Governor: Does not appear on primary ballot. Nominated by state party convention after primary, and elected as a team with Governor in November 6 general election.
All terms four years.
If you are registered to vote as a Democrat, for example, your vote in the primary election will help choose the Democratic Party's nominees for various offices. Since you, as a registered Democrat, are selecting your party's candidate to run against candidates from other parties in the general election, you will be given a ballot with only Democratic candidates to choose from. You will not see the names of any Republican or Libertarian candidates on your primary election ballot.
In the general election, which decides who will actually fill the offices, all voters get ballots listing all of the candidates.
Can I vote for a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another?
In a general election, yes. In a primary election, no.
Can I write in a candidate of one party in the other party's primary?
Yes, but the party primaries are separate contests. If you vote in the Democratic primary and write in Abe Lincoln, that will be counted as a Democratic primary vote for Lincoln, but it will not be added to Lincoln's Republican primary total. Candidates can only accept the nomination of one party.
I've been hearing that some nominations might go to a convention. How does that work?
Iowa law requires a candidate to win 35% of the primary vote to be nominated. If no candidate wins 35%, a party convention decides the nomination.