Improvement Association 220

The heat of the presidential election season may have cooled a few degrees, but as a new battle over voting access plays out in Georgia, there comes the newest series from Serial Productions. The series is taking on the hot topic of election fraud in a limited-run show called The Improvement Association. In the series, host Zoe Chace investigates the power of election fraud allegations in rural North Carolina.

Two years ago, Bladen County, NC, made national headlines when its congressional race was voided due to fraud after the results of an election were thrown out because of evidence the winner’s campaign had tampered with absentee ballots. But according to some local residents, the authorities got it all wrong. They allege the leader of a powerful Black advocacy group called the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC bullied Black voters, tampered with ballots, and stole votes outright.

In the five-episode The Improvement Association, Chace goes to Bladen County to find out what is behind all the suspicion, rumors and allegations to investigate whether there really is rampant election fraud.

"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," said 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."

Chace is a producer at This American Life. She was previously a reporter for NPR’s Planet Money team, as well as an NPR producer.

"The beauty of Zoe's reporting is that she tells political stories that are so entertaining, you forget they're political stories,” said Serial Productions Executive Editor Julie Snyder. “But in The Improvement Association, you not only get a rollicking story of rampant suspicion in a small community, Zoe also gives us a way to think about where we are as a nation right now, and how we've become almost undone by accusations of fraud and stolen elections."

The Improvement Association is produced by Nancy Updike and associate producer Amy Pedulla; edited by Julie Snyder, Sarah Koenig, Neil Drumming and Ira Glass; editorial consulting by RL Nave and Tim Tyson; fact checking and research by Ben Phelan, and sound design and mix by Phoebe Wang. The original score for The Improvement Association was written and performed by Kwame Brandt-Pierce.