The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts that were most fun to write in 2019

Before the new political year kicks off with the Iowa legislature convening and Governor Kim Reynolds laying out her agenda, I need to take care of some unfinished business from 2019.

When I reflect on my work at the end of each year, I like to take stock of not only the most popular posts published on this website and the ones I worked hardest on, but also the projects that brought me the most joy. I’ve found this exercise helps guide my editorial decisions on the many days when I have time to write up only one of several newsworthy stories.

Among the 348 posts I wrote last year, these were some of my favorites:

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Reynolds vows action on voting rights backlog before Iowa caucuses

Governor Kim Reynolds promised this week that 347 people who have asked her to restore their voting rights will have their applications reviewed in time for the Iowa caucuses on February 3.

“We’re not where we need to be” on processing those applications promptly, Reynolds acknowledged during a January 7 forum for statehouse reporters, organized by the Associated Press.

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The 19 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019

Chasing traffic never has been and never will be my primary goal for Bleeding Heartland. If it were, I’d publish weekly posts about puppies or Casey’s pizza instead of Iowa wildflowers.

And anyone who has worked on an online news source can vouch for me: a writer’s favorite projects are often not the ones that get the most clicks.

Still, people do ask me from time what posts tend to do well, and I find it fun at year-end to recap the pieces that were particularly popular with readers. Since I started this exercise a few years ago, I’ve always uncovered some surprises.

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Can Iowa fix flawed felon database before 2020 election?

Ten months after the Des Moines Register revealed that “Iowa’s flawed felon list has been disqualifying legitimate voters for years,” and five months after voting rights advocates warned that “Iowa’s voter list maintenance practices are arbitrary and unlawful,” Secretary of State Paul Pate announced an ambitious plan to clean up the felon database.

“The new steps to ensure the system’s accuracy include a manual review of all 90,000 files,” a November 20 news release announced. The goal is to complete the task before next year’s general election.

Several unanswered questions remain about the plan.

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Is Iowa's secretary of state fully complying with court ruling on voter law?

The State of Iowa has revised the official absentee ballot request form in light of a court ruling that invalidated some sections of Iowa election law. However, the new form still lists a voter ID number as a required field, despite a court order permanently enjoining Secretary of State Paul Pate from “indicating that such information is ‘required.’”

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