In 2017, the legislature passed a bill which merged municipal, school districts, community college districts (merged) and area education agency boards into one date. Over the prior four municipal elections the voter turnout was 21.3%. During that same time, the voter turnout for the school board elections was averaged 6.5%.
Both of these turnouts are very low compared to that of general elections. That includes the Presidential race, Congressional races, statewide races, or state legislative races. In 2012 the Presidential election voter turnout was around 73% and in 2016 it was around 71%. In 2014 the voter turnout was 59% and in 2018 it was 61%.
On November 5, 2019 Iowa held the first combined municipal and school board elections. Voter turnout around the state was 16.58%. This turnout was a little smaller than the previous municipal election. However, this turnout was significantly higher for local school board elections, 2 and ½ times higher. Sac County had the highest turnout in the state with nearly 38%, with Fremont County not far behind at 35%. Polk County was just short of 20%. The combined municipal and school board elections made it easier for voters around the state to have a voice in their local school board elections.
This election was also the first general election in which Voter ID was fully-implemented.
Secretary of State Paul Pate spoke positively of the election, “Overall, I’m pleased with how the first city/school elections went across the state. As Iowa’s voter registration totals continue to soar, I believe turnout in these important local elections will follow that trend and Tuesday was a step in the right direction.”