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Board of Elections Kicks Two Muslim Women Off Ballot, Sparks Cries of Racism

Moumita Ahmed pictured center (Moumita Ahmed for District Leader)

April 27, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Two Muslim women running for elected office were kicked of the ballot by the Board of Elections Thursday — and several of their supporters say the ruling was based on xenophobia.

The BOE removed Mary Jobaida, who aims to unseat Cathy Nolan in Assembly District 37, and Moumita Ahmed, who is vying to be the Democratic district leader in Assembly District 24, citing technical errors.

The board ruled that the name each is running under doesn’t match the names they’ve registered to vote with.

But many say the BOE’s ruling was racist — a move to keep two Bangladeshi women out of office.

“At face value, the decisions against Mary Jobaida and Moumita Ahmed was a xenophobic attempt to keep two women of color from entering the political discourse,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, a candidate for Queens Borough President.

Mary Jobaida (Mary for Assembly)

The Queens Democratic Socialists called the BOE’s decision “undemocratic.” The group said the board used the cultural differences with the women’s names to get rid of them — which they called “despicable and racist.”

For instance, Jobaida is running under her nickname Mary, but she originally registered with the BOE to vote under her name Meherunnisa.

The South Asian American Voters Association also chimed in on Twitter.

“This is totally xenophobic attempt to keep @disruptionary and @maryforassembly off the ballot. We strongly condemning the action to silence our south Asian community.”

Ahmed herself called the BOE racist in an emotional video posted to her Twitter page.

She said the board was taking away her opportunity to finally bring representation to her community.

Ahmed said some of the BOE comments on the name issue were “discriminatory to a Muslim population and the Bangladeshi community that has already dealing with so much.”

“I’m running in a district where there’s no representation for us and I’m running to support them,” she said.

An attorney, who represents both candidates, has filed a lawsuit to challenge the BOE’s decision in court.

Jobaida said she is ready to continue to fight for representation.

“It’s not easy for a Muslim woman to run for office,” she said on Twitter. “They need to move layers of barriers to even think about it.”

The BOE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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12 Comments

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Gardens Watcher

The Democratic Socialists cry foul now, but surely they knew the Board of Elections rules.

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COCED

And, by the way, what does it even mean – “women of color” ? Are there colorless women?! That’s so misogynistic, you know…

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COCED

First reaction to anything, anything at all!, now is – “it’s racial discrimination”, “it’s xenophobia”. Get a life, candidates! If you’re not comfortable with the name your parents gave you – start with them, don’t drag the whole district into your family dispute

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SPet

i would rather think she had issue with her name and is ashamed of it if she was running under different name or going for name change. If you want to support your comunity that has no representation why name change? whats wrong with name you were given at birth?

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COCED

Totally agree. What’s wrong with the name?! And if you want to run under a different one – do it legally, change the name

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Irish Red

If the rules say that you are required to run for office using your legal name, the one you used to register to vote, it is not xenophobic to insist that the rules apply to everyone.
And the claim, “I’m running in a district where there’s no representation for us” seems so silly to me.
Who is “us”?
And if she believes that only a Muslim Bangladeshi can represent Muslim Bangladeshis, does that mean that the Asian-American Christian who is my representative cannot actually represent me, an Irish-American Buddhist?

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correct headline

“Two Democratic candidates fail to qualify for ballot, cries of fake racism ensue.”

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Pat Macnamara

File your applications correctly and you won’t be disqualified. Ahmed said some of the BOE comments on the name issue were “discriminatory to a Muslim population and the Bangladeshi community that has already dealing with so much.” Already dealing with so much? Can they elaborate? if they are already dealing with so much maybe they can’t handle to rigors of public office.

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Paul Kersey

Well said Pat! Cries of racism when their own mistake is to blame. What’s racist is the assumption that someone deduced that the applicant was MUSLIM based on their name. Unless their is a checkbox indicating that they are indeed Muslim, this is more clickbait garbage.

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Lazlo

My ancestors left to escape the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of half of Europe. The desire to come to America a land that had no ties to the problems of the Old World. But now the problems of the Old World have come here . No place else on earth to escape to ? Antartica? I wonder if the penguins will be happy to see us?

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