Stadium vote makes team colors 'electioneering'

Updated: October 19, 2004, 3:28 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A warning to Dallas Cowboys fans who plan to vote in the North Texas city of Arlington: Leave your team colors at home.

The Cowboys may be known as "America's Team," but polling places are no place for fan gear, election officials say -- at least not this year.

Elections administrator Robert Parten said Monday that voters sporting Cowboys logos at Arlington polling sites will be told to cover up their allegiance to the team if they want to cast ballots.

He said he ordered the prohibition because of a provision on the Arlington ballot that asks whether taxpayers should help pay for a $650 million Cowboys stadium in their city.

"Anytime you go into a polling place and what you're wearing shows something that's on the ballot, that's electioneering," Gayle Hamilton, assistant elections administrator for Tarrant County, said.

State law prohibits voters at the polls with clothing, jewelry or badges that promote or denounce a candidate or proposition on a ballot.

Parten said in an election year, the big blue star that's a fixture at Texas Stadium may also be considered a political statement in favor of the proposition.

For those who don't obey the prohibition, election officials have ordered smocks like those worn in hospital exam rooms that Arlington residents can wear to cover their Cowboys paraphernalia in the voting booth.

"We'll let them wear them to vote so they can be on their way," said Hamilton. "Hopefully, we won't have to use many of them, but we want to be prepared."

Gowns will be distributed to early voting locations by Wednesday, she said.

Parten said the smocks will also be distributed throughout the rest of Tarrant County for voters whose attire bears other types of political messages or symbols, such as donkeys or elephants.

"Nobody said a thing to me," said Judy Layton, who voted early while wearing a Cowboys T-shirt. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press