Launching Tuesday, April 13, The Improvement Association is a five-part series that features host, reporter and This American Life producer Zoe Chace as she travels to Bladen County, North Carolina to investigate the power of election fraud allegations. In 2019, Bladen County, North Carolina, made national headlines, becoming one of the few cases in modern history where a congressional race was voided due to fraud. The results of the election were thrown out because of evidence the winner’s campaign had tampered with absentee ballots.
But according to some Bladen County locals, the authorities got it all wrong. For at least a decade, people in this rural county have been pointing the finger at Horace Munn, the leader of a powerful Black advocacy group called the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC, accusing his group of bullying Black voters, tampering with ballots and stealing votes outright. These accusations have never been substantiated, but they persist.
“I first stumbled on the weird voting politics of Bladen County several years ago, when I did a story about possible election fraud in the always-exciting race for county Soil and Water Commissioner,” says Chace. “At the time, what went down seemed small and contained, and I thought that was that. But then one of my sources called me and told me I had to get back there, because there was something much bigger and more ominous going on.”
The Improvement Association is produced by Nancy Updike and associate producer Amy Pedulla; edited by Julie Snyder, Sarah Koenig, Neil Drumming and Ira Glass.
Listeners can catch the series on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and wherever podcasts are available. Click here for the trailer.