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Queens Supreme Court Judge Orders Two Bangladeshi Candidates Back on Ballots

Mary Jobaida (Mary for Assembly)

May 5, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Two Bangladeshi women are back on the ballot in an upcoming Queens primary after a judge ruled against the Board of Elections’ (BOE) decision to remove them for technicalities last week.

On Monday, Queens Supreme Court Judge Leonard Livote ordered Mary Jobaida, who hopes to unseat Cathy Nolan in Assembly District 37, and Moumita Ahmed, who is vying to be the Democratic district leader in Assembly District 24, to appear on their respective June 23 ballots.

The BOE had knocked the candidates off the ballot over discrepancies in their names.

The Board ruled that the name each had filed to run on didn’t match the name they are registered to vote with.

For instance, Jobaida is registered to vote under her legal name “Meherunnisa,” but filed her petition to appear on the ballot with her nickname “Mary.”

Likewise, Ahmed has campaigned for the Democratic district leader position under her personal name “Moumita,” but had registered to vote under her legal name “Atqiya.”

Many said the BOE’s ruling was xenophobic — a move to keep two Bangladeshi Muslim women out of office.

Judge Livote called the BOE’s ruling “impermissibly narrow.”

He noted previous cases where a candidate named “Michael” was allowed to run under “Mike” and another candidate named “Martin” was allowed to run under “Marty.”

Moumita Ahmed pictured center (Moumita Ahmed for District Leader)

Supporters said the Board used cultural differences with each woman’s name to get rid of them. The Queens Democratic Socialists called the move “despicable and racist.”

Judge Livote said the diversity of Queens calls for a wider view of the name requirements and what constitutes a nickname.

“In a county as diverse as Queens, with many exotic and unfamiliar names, an expansive view must be taken of what is familiar or diminutive,” Livote wrote. “Thus, the position taken by the Board is impermissibly narrow.”

Both women will appear on the ballot on June 23 under their personal names.

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