The Improvement Association

The Improvement Association

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.

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March 30, 2021 2 min

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. ...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


 

 


 

 

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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. 

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