State your race!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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It hurts to ask:  [Note: See updates below; text has been changed as indicated] I was actually kind of shocked today when I went online to register to vote and had was asked to answer a race question–i.e. what was my “Ethnicity/Race”?–in order to finish before finishing the process.  I would have thought race questions and voting registration don’t mix.  I get to vote whichever way I answer, right?

The question wasn’t marked as optional–though other questions were, leaving the strong implication that if I declined to answer this one my registration wouldn’t go through. Nor was “decline to answer” one of the  choices offered–only “Multi-racial” or “Other.” [Update: It turns out the word “optional” does appear at the top of the page, before the first question on that page, which is labeled “a”. The race question is “b.”]

Isn’t this arguably an excessive burden on a fundamental right–voting? You can’t tax me $10 to vote, but you can force me to answer ask me  a noxious question? What if they asked my religion? Where are Ward Connerly’s lawyers when we need them? ….

P.S.: It would be one thing if the question were [clearly] marked “optional.” The obvious [possible] reason why this wasn’t done is that too many people would, like me, find it obnoxious and opt not to answer. Proves the point!

It would be another thing if Los Angeles were one of the counties the Voting Rights Act states subject to special rules due to a history of discrimination. But we’re not.

I’d go even further and say the government shouldn’t be able to require any answers ask any questions–even non-obnoxious, innocent-seeming ones–that aren’t directly relevant to finding out if I am who I say I am and am qualified to vote. They shouldn’t ask me what my income is, or what movies I like, or  whether I’d use a carpool lane on Wilshire Boulevard. It’s none of their business–and who knows what questions will discourage some people from completing the registration. It hurts to ask.

[Update: If the question is optional, why not make that clear in a way average registrants will notice?  More important, if it’s optional, why ask it at all? If registrants really can opt out the results are unlikely to be scientific anyway. And I’m sure there are lots of things the government might like to know–why not ask whether I’m married, or overweight? It’s not an exit poll. If “race” must be known in Voting Rights States, that doesn’t necessarily make it constitutional to ask in non-Voting Rights states.]

This is the right to vote we’re dealing with, and you don’t make citizens jump through gratuitous hoops to exercise it. …


Paranoia tingling: So General Motors, owned in large part by the U.S. Government, inexplicably spends $400 million to buy into the French carmaker Peugeot, after which Peugeot shuts down its operation in Iran, where it is a major player, taking a big loss in the process. … Why do I think there’s a backstory here that hasn’t come out?


The Slothrop of Glitches: Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, has a great rep. But the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, developed under his watch while he was a top executive at that aircraft manufacturer, turns out to have some embarrassing quality issues (perhaps due to an overaggressive outsourcing program). And Ford, where he is now CEO, has lately been squandering its reputation for reliability through an overreliance on unproven transmissions and electronics (and that’s assuming there’s not a bigger problem). ..  Probably just a coincidence, of course. …  Sorry to even think it. … Complicates the narrative. But couldn’t help noticing. … Is it possible the Legend of Mulally is due for some revision? …


Mickey Kaus