End Draft Registration

by Bill Galvin


Although no one in the US has been drafted since the Vietnam War era, young men have been required to register since 1980. Two years ago, the Senate passed legislation that would extend this requirement to women, but the House did not. Instead, Congress established the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service as a compromise. The Commission’s mandate is to consider issues of national service, both military and civilian, including important questions about Selective Service registration: should it continue, should women be required to register, and are there changes that should be made to the Selective Service System.


It has been decades since there has been a serious national conversation about Selective Service. This is a great opportunity to lift our voices to call for an end to Selective Service (draft) Registration. All branches of our government have affirmed that the primary purpose of Registration is to be prepared for war.


Many young men were not registering for the draft as the law required, so Congress has passed several laws to coerce people to register. Non-registrants are not eligible for federal financial aid to attend college, or most federal jobs or job training. If someone fails to register by his 26th birthday, he is permanently barred from these things. Selective Service lobbied states to pass similar laws, and many states did. More recently, states are linking draft registration with obtaining a driver’s license or photo ID. Currently over 40 states have such laws.


In NY and CT, young men are automatically registered with Selective Service when they apply for a driver’s license or photo ID from the state. (NJ does not currently have such a law.) Those filing the online FAFSA form to determine eligibility for college financial aid may also be automatically registered. 


Such automatic registration presents a problem for those who feel that registering with the Selective Service System is a form of participating in war. It is also a problem for those who are compelled to declare their conscientious objection to war at the time they register for the draft. 


The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service is at work right now to determine the fate of Selective Service (Draft) Registration, and they need to hear from people of conscience! Please submit your written comments by September 30, 2018...

  • ...through the Commission’s website: www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughts
  • ...or by email: [email protected] using the subject line, “Docket 05-2018-01” 
  • ...or by mail: National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, 2530 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000, Room 1029, Arlington, VA 22202. Attn: RFI COMMENT—Docket 05-2018-01


More information is available from the Center on Conscience & War: centeronconscience.org/co/conscientious-objection-and-the-draft/353-commission-on-military-national-and-public-service.html