Atqiya “Moumita” Ahmed took to Twitter to respond to being removed from the ballot after being caught using a fake name:
As my lawyer @Ali_Najmi waits in line for a court hearing about my name change, here’s a refresher on what happened. On April 23rd, Thursday, @maryforassembly and I were unfairly removed from the ballot by the @BOENYC over a name change dispute. They threw me off the ballot because the name on the petition did not match their voter file and because the affidavit and papers we submitted for the name change were sent to them on Tuesday evening and not Monday at 3 pm. I submitted a name change request to run as Moumita instead of the name on my voter reg card back in February. B4 that, the Bernie campaign submitted a name change request on my behalf to the BOE to be on the ballot as a delegate under the name Moumita. The BOE accepted it. Every Bangladeshi has two names: one “bhalo” nAm and one “daak nam”. When I came to the US, I was 8 yrs old. My teachers could not pronounce my name, which led the kids to make fun of me and bully me in class. The only friends I had were other Bengali kids who understood my daak nam. They called me Moumita. For those of us who experience discrimination for our identities, chronic mispronunciation of our names in the classroom and the workplace can be especially painful. Refusal to learn the correct pronunciation can feel like erasure—another signal of not being welcome. From elementary school to college, everyone has known me as Moumita. Moumita is my real name. Moumita to Bengali people is the same as Americans calling William Clinton, Bill. I am representing a district where 36% of the people are South Asian and Bangladeshi; they all know me as Moumita. I’ve lived in assembly district 24 for 22 years. My neighbors know me as Moumita. Despite doing the work of talking to voters and collecting thousands of signatures while COVID-19 was unfolding as Moumita Ahmed, the BOE decided not to allow me to get on the ballot for district leader. Their only argument was they sent out a letter about it. My zip code is one of the hardest-hit zones for COVID19. The Trump administration is rejecting bailouts to save the postal service from going broke; the BOE expects a non-certified mail to be delivered and thinks it’s fair to blame me for not receiving it. The onus is on them to prove that I received that mail. When I have to send something to the BOE, I have to certify mail. How come they aren’t required to do that? The BOE counselor said, “we sent it,” and the commissioners took his word for it. How is this fair? At one point, a BOE counselor said, “we could understand the precedence for a name change from Anthony to Tony, but this…” he couldn’t even finish the sentence because he couldn’t pronounce our names either. It was also a discriminatory thing to say to two Muslim women candidates, that our Muslim names are more complicated than the average caucasian name. Mary and I are running to represent a community that has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and has ZERO representation in our legislature. If elected, Mary and I would be the first to represent Bangladeshis in our respective offices. To watch the @BOENYC snap its fingers and, in one swift motion, take our voices away was painful. We, as a community, cannot allow the BOE to use archaic interpretations of ballot access rules to suppress the voices of working-class women from our communities. I am calling on members from the Bangladeshi community and our allies to demand the Mayor and the Governor condemn the BOE ruling and restore mine and Mary’s position on the ballot.
Ahmed also made a video response, which you can watch here.
UPDATE: Supreme Court Judge Leonard Livote ruled that the women’s names be put back on the June 23 primary election ballot.
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