Student Voter Guide for Iowa’s 2020 Presidential Caucuses

This guide will help you participate in Iowa’s February 3 Presidential Caucus, in which you can help choose America’s presidential nominees.

In Iowa, Presidential delegates are selected by caucuses run by the Iowa Democratic Party and Iowa Republican Party. To participate in a caucus, you must be registered with the party holding the caucus. Choosing a party to caucus with does not commit you to vote for that party in future elections.

Dates and Deadlines


  • By mail: Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Online: Friday, January 24
  • In-person at the caucuses: Monday, February 3

Caucus date: Monday, February 3. Caucuses start between 6:00-6:30 but you must be there by 7:00 PM. Find your Democratic caucus location here and your Republican caucus location here.

For local and statewide races, the 2020 Iowa primary is Tuesday, June 2.

Why this caucus matters

You have a chance to determine the Presidential nominees for one of the two major political parties. Coming at the beginning of the nation’s series of primaries and caucuses, the Iowa caucus plays a particularly important role. Democratic Party delegates are allotted proportionately to those candidates who reach a 15% threshold in the caucus. Republican Party delegates are allocated proportionately with no minimum threshold. Kirkwood Community College created a terrific video explaining key logistical rules and why the caucuses matter.

Candidate information

For Republican and Democratic Presidential candidate websites, CNN has a complete list. Politico also has a quick guide to Democratic candidate positions.


To register to vote in Iowa, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • An Iowa resident
  • At least 17 years old 
  • Not have been convicted of a felony (or have had your rights restored)
  • Not currently been judged by a court as incompetent to vote
  • Not claim the right to vote in any other place

To participate in a caucus, you must be:

  • An Iowa resident (and for a precinct caucus, a resident of the precinct)
  • Eligible to vote in Iowa
  • At least 18 years old on November 3, 2020
  • Registered as a member of the party holding the caucus (or willing to register with that party at the caucus)

How to register to vote

In Iowa you can register by mail or online. For more information, see these tutorials for registering online or by mail. You can also register in-person on caucus day, at your caucus site. You do not need to show ID to vote at the caucus, but if you are registering for the first time you will need:

  • An Iowa driver’s license or ID card
  • Or the last four digits of your social security number
  • In some counties this will be all you’ll need. In case you are asked for more, we recommend bringing an ID from this  list.

Address to use for registering and voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state. However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register. Registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student

Key Resources