United We Count, United We Vote

September 03, 2020 | United Way Team

The 2020 election is right around the corner, and your voice matters. Here’s why and how you can vote this year.

Voting is one of the most important responsibilities we have in the United States. We are lucky to consider it a right, while others around the world struggle to ensure a fair election process. Participation is crucial to appoint leaders and address issues that are significant to each of us. United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) has helped strengthen the most vulnerable populations in our five-county region for over 100 years and will continue to do so for the next century. One of the most powerful ways to strengthen our community is to encourage public engagement. An engaged public is passionate about seeing the community thrive as well as attentive to the impacts of decisions made by leaders.

There are some steps to take, however, to exercise the right to vote. First, you must be registered which has been especially difficult this year due to COVID-19. The Center for Election Innovation & Research indicates that more individuals across the country registered to vote in January and February 2020 than in January and February 2016. However, that trend did not continue, as fewer individuals registered to vote during the spring of 2020 than the spring of 2016.¹ In other years, volunteers helped register individuals in-person at community locations such as farmers markets, libraries, and colleges. That has undoubtedly decreased this year with social distancing. However, there are many other ways to register, and it can even be done online.

In UWECI’s five county region (Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, and Linn), voter registration has not exactly followed the national trends (see Fig. 1). The increase of registered voters in February of 2016 and 2020 over their respective January baselines was similar. However, after March, when COVID-19 started knowingly spreading in our area, a clear divergence occurred. In June of 2016, 1,744 more people were registered than in January of that year; while in June of 2020, only 1,113 more individuals were registered. Since June, though, there has been a good increase in voter registration, even as the pandemic continues. As of August, our area has 2,371 more registered voters than it did in January. That number is closing in on 2016 when our area had increased registered voters by 2,602. Even with the new challenges brought on by the derecho a few weeks ago, we can still keep the registration momentum moving forward.

Data Dialogue Graphs-Registered Voters by Month-MM-05-05-1

Here are two common ways you can register to vote:


  1. Download this Voter Registration Form.
  2. Follow the instructions carefully as you fill in all the required information.
  3. Find your county auditor information here.
  4. Mail the completed voter registration form or deliver it in-person to your county auditor’s office.


  1. Visit the Iowa Electronic Voter Registration Website.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and fill in all the required information and click “LOGIN”.
  3. Follow the instructions carefully as you fill in all the required information for each page (there are multiple).
  4. At the end, you will be registered to vote, nothing needs mailed or delivered in-person.

All of this information and more, including informational videos and frequently asked questions, can be found at the Voter Registration Page of the Iowa Secretary of State Website.

While you are social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and volunteering to clean-up our community from the storm, try registering to vote and help those you are working with do the same. We have been incredibly strong in the face of these challenges and election participation will only boost that strength as we become more engaged and connected.



¹ Center for Election Innovation & Research. New Voter Registrations in 2020. 6/10/2020. https://electioninnovation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/New_Voter_Registrations.pdf

² Iowa Secretary of State. Voter Registration Totals by County. Jan-Aug 2016 & 2020. https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/county.html#2020