Following ACLU Lawsuit, Court Reinstates RI Legislator's Name on the Primary Ballot

August 21, 2002 12:00 am

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PROVIDENCE, RI-Following an appeal filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, a state supreme court judge today ordered that a legislator’s name be placed back on the election ballot for the September 10th primary, saying that the Board of Elections had improperly disqualified her.

“”The result of this case is a very positive one, not just for a candidate, but for the voters in District 12 who will now have two choices, rather than one, on September 10,”” said John W. Dineen, a volunteer attorney for the ACLU of Rhode Island.

The ACLU had filed an appeal on behalf of Rep. Aisha Abdullah-Odiase earlier this week after the Board of Elections disqualified her because one of her nomination papers allegedly contained signatures not witnessed by her. She was disqualified even though her other nomination papers, which were not challenged, had more than enough signatures to qualify her for the ballot.

“”This ruling gives us confidence in the system,”” said Rep. Abdullah-Odiase. “”I want to thank the ACLU for working to protect our civil liberties so that we may all enjoy the benefits of a democratic society.””

In a three-page order echoing the ACLU’s arguments, State Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders, Jr., noted that, “”even assuming that all the challenged signatures on [Abdullah-Odiase’s] nomination papers were invalid because of an improper or false affidavit affixed to certain nomination papers, [her] additional nomination papers contain more than enough unchallenged signatures to warrant placing her name on the ballot.”” Justice Flanders cited other decisions from his court holding that “”one invalid affidavit does not invalidate the remaining affidavits.””

Justice Flanders today also ordered the Secretary of State to “”take whatever steps are required”” to place Abdullah-Odiase’s name on the ballot for the September 10th primary, and to also send out revised mail ballots for that Representative district.

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