Georgia Republicans Remove Officer Who Voted Illegally

The vote removes Brian Pritchard, the Georgia GOP’s first vice chairman.
Georgia Republicans Remove Officer Who Voted Illegally
Brian K. Pritchard testifies on the witness stand during his trial at the Gilmer County Courthouse in Ellijay, Ga., on Feb. 9, 2024. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Zachary Stieber
5/13/2024
Updated:
5/13/2024

Georgia’s Republican Party has removed one of its officers after he was ruled to have voted illegally multiple times.

Georgia’s GOP voted 146–24 on May 11 to remove Brian K. Pritchard, its first vice chairman, Chairman Josh McKoon said after the closed meeting.

He said that removing Mr. Pritchard was necessary because he refused to step down.

“Today’s vote demonstrates how serious we take election integrity,” Mr. McKoon said in a statement.

State officials found that Mr. Pritchard, after being convicted of felony forgery and other felony charges, voted in elections between 2008 and 2011 while still serving the sentence that he had received after his conviction. Georgia law states that “no person who has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude may register, remain registered, or vote except upon completion of the sentence.”

In a ruling in March, a Georgia judge concluded that Mr. Pritchard violated the law when he voted nine times between 2008 and 2011.

“The evidence demonstrates he completed these acts prior to the expiration of his sentence for his felony convictions of crimes of moral turpitude, in violation of both O.C.G.A. § 21-2-216 and Article II of the Georgia Constitution,” Administrative Law Judge Lisa Boggs wrote in the ruling.

Mr. Pritchard was sentenced to probation after being convicted of the felonies for forging checks. The probation was revoked three times, including in 1999, when Mr. Pritchard moved to Georgia. But the probation was imposed again for seven years in 2004.

Mr. Pritchard wrote when registering to vote in 2008 that he was “not serving a sentence for having been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.” He has voted in nine elections, including the primary and general elections in 2010.

Judge Boggs said that Mr. Pritchard’s statements in his defense were inconsistent; at one point, Mr. Pritchard said that no one had contacted him about restitution across three years, but at another point, he said he was called by a collection agency during that time.

The judge ordered Mr. Pritchard to pay a $5,000 fine and the costs of the investigation. She also ordered a public reprimand.

Mr. Pritchard has maintained that he is innocent. He said during testimony that he did not think he was still on probation in 2008 and was not aware of any factors that would make it illegal for him to register to vote or to vote at the time.

Mr. Pritchard returned to Pennsylvania, where he was convicted, in 2011 and acknowledged possibly being in violation of his probation. He asked to be removed from the Georgia voting rolls in 2014 after a complaint was lodged over his record. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles restored his voting rights in a 2017 order.

In social media posts, Mr. Pritchard has painted the effort to remove him as political.

“My mission was clear: to steer our party back on course and ensure that in 2024, Donald J. Trump would rightfully reclaim his position as our nation’s leader,” he wrote on social media in April. “But as I began to ask the tough questions, to challenge the status quo, I found myself facing a barrage of resistance from within. You see, in the eyes of the entrenched RINO establishment, questioning their authority is akin to heresy. They’d rather maintain their grip on power than uphold the values we hold dear.”

Some party activists have spoken out in favor of the ouster.

“It was the right thing to do,” Debbie Dooley, a supporter of former President Trump, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The focus needs to be electing Donald Trump and fighting for election integrity and combating election fraud.”

Mr. Pritchard’s ouster could play into a fight that’s brewing over who should represent Georgia on the Republican National Committee. In addition to Mr. McKoon, who serves on the committee by virtue of his position, delegates will elect two other members; last time, those were committee members Ginger Howard and Jason Thompson.

Challengers include David Cross, the Georgia GOP’s second vice chairman and one of Mr. Pritchard’s most vocal defenders; his wife, Shawn Cross; and Jason Frazier, who has been active in making voter eligibility challenges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.