Pottawatomie County Man Facing Jail Time For Wearing Mask While Voting

Thursday, December 7th 2006, 9:32 am
By: News On 6

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) -- A voter who wore a mask to the polls to warn people about what he calls government's abuse of power now faces a fine and jail time.

Christopher Nichols is charged in Pottawatomie County with a misdemeanor for violating a 1923 state law prohibiting people from wearing a mask in public. He faces a fine of up to $500 and up to a year in the county jail if convicted.

Nichols' attorney Stephen Cale says Nichols was only trying to make a political statement when he wore the mask to Grove School to vote and didn't have it on while talking to poll workers or while voting.

County Election Board Secretary Diana Knight says she reported the incident because she wasn't sure about Nichols' intentions.

District Attorney Richard Smothermon says the 1923 law was likely intended for groups like the Ku Klux Klan but it also requires him to file charges or face being kicked out of office.

The law has numerous exceptions including for Halloween, masquerade parties, parades and circuses.