The 20 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2020

Since I started reviewing Bleeding Heartland’s most widely-read posts at the end of each year, I’ve had mixed feelings about the practice. My organizing principle on any given day is not chasing clicks, but looking for ways to add value, either by covering Iowa political news not reported elsewhere, or by offering a different perspective on the big story of the day. I try not to be hyper-aware of traffic numbers, so as not to let those drive editorial decisions.

On the other hand, it is fun at year-end to recap the posts that were particularly popular with Bleeding Heartland readers, and I usually find a few surprises.

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Iowa Republicans acknowledge Biden will be president, without admitting he won

Most of the Republicans who will represent Iowa in Congress next year are on record saying Joe Biden will be president of the United States.

But none have stated publicly that Biden legitimately won every state that cast its electoral votes for him on December 14.

With President Donald Trump and many of his supporters spreading false allegations of election fraud every day, it’s critically important for Republicans to state unambiguously that Biden won both the national popular vote and more votes than Trump in states that account for 306 electoral votes. Few prominent Iowa Republicans are up to that task.

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There must have been a better way

Everyone knew Iowa’s State Canvassing Board wouldn’t have the final word on the 2020 election in the second Congressional district when it certified a six-vote win for Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks on November 30. Most politics watchers expected Democratic candidate Rita Hart to file for an election contest.

Instead, the Hart campaign announced on December 2 that it will bypass Iowa’s process and appeal directly to the Democratic-controlled U.S. House.

This won’t end well.

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Get ready for an election contest in IA-02

All 24 counties in Iowa’s second Congressional district have recounted their votes, but the race between Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is far from over.

Trackers including Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line and Tom Barton of the Quad-City Times reached the same conclusion: once all counties submit their new numbers to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Miller-Meeks will have a six-vote lead out of more than 394,000 ballots cast. Rynard posted vote changes in each county since election day here. The two candidates’ vote share is identical to the one-hundredth of a percent (49.91 percent).

The Miller-Meeks campaign’s lawyer Alan Ostergren declared victory after Clinton County’s recount board finished its work on November 28. The Republican candidate said in a written statement, “While this race is extraordinarily close, I am proud to have won this contest and look forward to being certified as the winner by the state’s Executive Council on Monday.”

Three Republicans (Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate, and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig) and two Democrats (State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and State Auditor Rob Sand) serve on the Executive Council. Assuming that body certifies the result, an election contest is extremely likely.

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Most Iowans with felony convictions still not registered to vote

Only a small fraction of newly eligible Iowans have registered to vote since Governor Kim Reynolds issued an executive order restoring voting rights to most people who have completed felony sentences.

Justin Surrency was first to report for WHO-TV on October 19 that 2,550 Iowans with felony convictions had registered to vote since the governor’s order. Erin Murphy reported for Lee Newspapers on October 20,

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Lawsuit challenges Paul Pate's limits on ballot drop boxes

Two groups charge in a lawsuit filed this week that Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate exceeded his authority and violated the Iowa Constitution by restricting the placement of drop boxes for absentee ballots in guidance issued this month.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) and Majority Forward argued that Pate infringed on the “home rule” authority of Iowa counties as well as on individuals’ fundamental constitutional right to vote.

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