7 episodes

For at least a decade, allegations of cheating have swirled around elections in rural Bladen County, N.C. Some people in town point fingers at a Black advocacy group, the Bladen County Improvement Association, accusing it of bullying voters, tampering with ballots and stealing votes outright. These accusations have never been substantiated, but they persist.

Reporter Zoe Chace went to Bladen County to investigate what’s really going on. From the makers of Serial and The New York Times, a five-part series about allegations of election fraud — and the powerful forces that fuel them.

The Improvement Association Serial

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 70 Ratings

For at least a decade, allegations of cheating have swirled around elections in rural Bladen County, N.C. Some people in town point fingers at a Black advocacy group, the Bladen County Improvement Association, accusing it of bullying voters, tampering with ballots and stealing votes outright. These accusations have never been substantiated, but they persist.

Reporter Zoe Chace went to Bladen County to investigate what’s really going on. From the makers of Serial and The New York Times, a five-part series about allegations of election fraud — and the powerful forces that fuel them.

    Chapter One: ‘The Big Shadoo’

    Chapter One: ‘The Big Shadoo’

    Following a notorious case of election fraud in Bladen County, North Carolina, in 2018, the reporter Zoe Chace gets an invitation from Horace Munn, the leader of the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC, a Black political advocacy group whose name was dragged into the scandal. Horace asks Zoe to come down and investigate for herself and find out who is really cheating.

    • 44 min
    Chapter Two: ‘Where Is Your Choice?’

    Chapter Two: ‘Where Is Your Choice?’

    Zoe talks to people in the county who believe the Bladen Improvement PAC has been cheating for years. She tries to get beyond the rumors and into specifics, and comes face to face with the intense suspicion and scrutiny leveled against the organization. In the middle of another election, Zoe goes out with members of the PAC to watch how they operate and try to make sense of all these allegations against them.

    • 44 min
    Chapter Three: ‘The Ballad of the Nursing Home Ballots’

    Chapter Three: ‘The Ballad of the Nursing Home Ballots’

    Zoe delves into one of the most serious allegations against the Bladen Improvement PAC: an accusation about stealing votes from vulnerable people that goes back 10 years. In trying to track down the veracity of this particularly persistent rumor, she comes to understand how and why election cheating allegations are so sticky.

    • 39 min
    Chapter Four: ‘Let Them Pull the Red Wagon’

    Chapter Four: ‘Let Them Pull the Red Wagon’

    With the PAC’s reputation suffering because of years of cheating accusations and resentment stirring within its ranks, a prominent member turns against the leadership. Nevertheless, Horace and his closest allies make a bold move by supporting a political upset at the center of the county.

    • 51 min
    Chapter Five: ‘Democrat, Republican, White, Black, Green’

    Chapter Five: ‘Democrat, Republican, White, Black, Green’

    The Improvement Association PAC’s power in the county is threatened when an unlikely candidate enters the race for county commissioner. Plenty of people outside the PAC now have their own ideas about how to build Black political power here. Zoe examines what this election could mean for the PAC’s future.

    • 48 min
    Trailer

    Trailer

    A new podcast from the makers of "Serial" and The New York Times. For at least a decade, allegations of cheating have swirled around elections in rural Bladen County, N.C. Some people in town point fingers at a Black advocacy group, the Bladen County Improvement Association, accusing it of bullying voters, tampering with ballots and stealing votes outright. These accusations have never been substantiated, but they persist. In this five-part series, reporter Zoe Chace travels to Bladen County, N.C., to investigate the power of election fraud allegations.

    • 2 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
70 Ratings

70 Ratings

T H Ware ,

Fascinating and Well Done

Very interesting story, compelling telling, balanced reporting. Great to hear how a very localised investigative journalism piece works. If you like this, check out the Trojan Horse Affair by the same people - I heard that one first, also excellent.

Saraint ,

Excellent unbiased journalism

Just before listening to this podcast, I had listened to another investigative podcast. The other one was so awful; sensationalist, leading, badly written, using the work of others without adding anything new... utter trash. I had felt so disheartened, that something of such poor quality could be popular and well-reviewed.
Then I found The Improvement Association and I felt so relieved. Thank goodness there are journalists out there making work of this quality.
Thank you, I truly loved it; thought provoking, with well-drawn characters, unbiased, surprising, well-produced. I will be considering this podcast for a long time to come and for all the right reasons.

Ihsankerr ,

Interesting and entertaining - as expected

Another excellent show from serial productions. Very highly produced and interesting the whole way though.

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

Wondery
James English
C13Originals | Team Downey
Global
BBC Radio 4
Crowd Network

You Might Also Like

Serial Productions & The New York Times
Serial Productions & The New York Times
Serial Productions
Serial Productions
This American Life
Pineapple Street Studios

More by The New York Times

The New York Times
New York Times Opinion
The New York Times
The New York Times
Serial Productions & The New York Times
New York Times Opinion