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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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