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CoastLine: Ever hear of the Bladen County Improvement Association? New podcast from Serial Productions unpacks the power of alleging election fraud

Nancy Updike and Zoe Chace
Serial Productions
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Serial Productions
Producer Nancy Updike and Reporter Zoe Chace

Election fraud allegations arise with varying degrees of credibility each election season. In fact, there is a voting bloc in the U.S. that still believes, incorrectly, Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Their case rests on thoroughly debunked allegations of election fraud. But despite that, rumors of fraud persist.

In 2018, an actual case of election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District led the state Board of Elections to throw out the results and hold a new election. Mark Harris, the Republican candidate and winner of the disputed election, did not face any criminal charges, but the operative he hired, McCrae Dowless, did. Harris chose not to run in the do-over. Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Dan McCready and now holds that seat.

But some in Bladen County say elections officials missed the real perpetrators of election fraud. And that’s where Serial Productions, the makers of the podcasts, “Serial,” “S-Town” and “Nice White Parents“, pick up the story.

A five-part series called, “The Improvement Association, a true story of election fraud”, looks at allegations of illegal interference in Bladen County’s elections and the power of rumors – whether those rumors can be substantiated or not.

Zoe Chace reports and hosts the “The Improvement Association”. She is a producer at “This American Life.” She has also reported for NPR's Planet Money.

Nancy Updike is one of the founding producers at “This American Life” and is the Producer of “The Improvement Association.

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Rachel hosts and produces WHQR's local public affairs and variety show, CoastLine, which she helped to create. Before joining WHQR, Rachel wrote and produced local TV newscasts for the Wilmington ABC-TV affiliate. She also wrote and produced a 30-minute TV special program for the Cape Fear Museum showcasing its renovation and new exhibits, and she independently wrote and produced a documentary on the lingering effects of the 1898 coup d'etat in Wilmington.