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Advice about Selective Service registration

I don’t want to be drafted. What should I do?

Don't Register!

  1. If you haven’t registered for the draft, don’t. If you haven’t registered, you won’t be drafted (unless there is a draft of health care workers or some other sort of “special skills” draft based on professional licenses rather than Selective Service registration).

  2. Don’t panic if you didn’t register. The government can’t prosecute you unless they can prove that you knew you were supposed to register. That’s not as easy for the government as you might think. They would have to get you to sign for a certified letter, or send FBI agents to personally notify you and give you a chance to register. Make them work: Unless you have to register for some Federal program, don’t register unless the FBI finds you and tells you that you have to. This isn’t likely to happen: All enforcement of draft registration has been “suspended” by the government since 1988.

  3. Don’t register unless and until you have to do so to be eligible for some Federal or state program. You have to register with the Selective Service System to get a drivers license in some states, or are registered automatically if you get a license in some states — but not others. You can get a drivers license in California, Oregon, Wyoming, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, or Vermont without registering with the Selective Service System. You have to register for the draft to be eligible for get Federal student aid (although that requirement will be eliminated by 2023), Federal jobs, or naturalization as a U.S. citizen. But in practice, there is no penalty for registering late, as long as you register before your 26th birthday. So there’s nothing to gain by registering until you really need to do so for some Federal or state program.

  4. If you don’t want to risk being drafted, but you also don’t want to risk being penalized later in life for not having registered for the draft, wait until just before your 26th birthday, and register then. In practice, there’s no penalty for registering late, as long as you register by your 26th birthday. For more details on the process and the timeline, see these flowcharts of some of the decision points and options before you register, if you don’t register, and after you register if you register and there is a draft.

  5. If you have to register, don’t give the Selective Service System any more information than you have to. They are not your friend. Their only job is to force you into the military. As with the police, anything you say to them can, and will, be used against you. Give the postal address at which an induction notice will be least likely to reach you. Don’t give the Selective Service a phone number or e-mail address. You are not required to have a phone number or e-mail address, or to give it to the Selective Service System.

  6. Don’t tell the Selective Service System if you move. Don’t give the Postal Service a forwarding address to pass on to the Selective Service System (and other junk mailers). The only thing the Selective Service System would ever use your address for is to send you an induction notice. If they do, the best outcome for you is if the induction notice they try to send to you comes back to them as undeliverable.

  7. Don’t give the government evidence against yourself. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you.” Don’t talk to the the Selective Service System or the FBI. Tell your parents, family, and friends to do the same.

  8. Ignore any letters about the draft from the Selective Service System, Department of Defense, or Department of Justice that you don’t have to sign for. They may sound scary, but unless you have to sign for them, they are junk mail.

  9. Don’t sign for any letters from the Selective Service System, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Justice. Signatures acknowledging receipt of these letters can be, and have been, used in criminal trials to prove knowledge of Selective Service requirements and orders. You are not required to accept or sign for their letters, and you don’t have to give the mail carrier a reason why you refuse a letter.

  10. Don’t open any e-mail messages from the Selective Service System, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Justice. E-mail messages can, and often do, contain unique hidden tracking codes than enable the sender to prove that they were read. Like signatures on return receipts for postal mail, this could be used against you to prove knowledge of Selective Service requirements and orders.

  11. Tell your parents or anyone else who lives at the address you gave when you registered not to sign for any letters for you from the Selective Service System, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Justice. Tell them not to talk to any Feds who come looking for you or asking questions about you. They are not required to say anything to the Feds, or answer any questions. Anything they say can, and will, be used against them as well as against you. If your parents or housemates want to help you, the best thing for them to do is to remain silent.

  12. Don’t report for induction. As with registration, they can’t prosecute you unless they can prove that you got an induction order, which they can’t do unless you sign for a certified letter, or unless they send the FBI to serve you with an order in person. Make them work: Don’t report for induction unless the FBI finds you and tells you that you have to.

  13. Organize and speak out against the draft. The best way to avoid being drafted is to stop the draft before it starts. Talk to your friends. Invite a speaker to talk to your group. Let people know that you don’t want to be forced into the military. Write a letter to the editor or an article for your student or community newspaper or Web site. Post a comment online, on social media or in your blog. Post a quick #iobject #iwillresist #nodraft video stating why you oppose the draft. Let the world know that you oppose the draft and draft registration, that you will resist if drafted, and that you will support and defend others who resist. We especially want to hear from women who plan not to register with the Selective Service System when you turn 18, if you are required to do so. We can publish your resistance statement, with your name or anonymously, or link to your statement or video. You can reach us at resisters@hasbrouck.org. Your statements will help encourage and empower others.

  14. Support Federal legislation to end draft registration, abolish the Selective Service System, and restore eligibility for Federal student aid and other programs for men who didn’t register for the draft.

  15. Send a message to your U.S. Representative and Senators asking them to end draft registration and end contingency planning for a general draft or a draft of health care workers

  16. Know that you are not alone. Most people don’t want to register for the draft, don’t want to fight, and don’t want to kill or be killed. Millions of people have violated the draft registration laws. Together, our resistance has prevented a draft for the last 40 years, and forced the government to abandon enforcement of the registration requirement.

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This page most recently modified 16 February 2021. This site is maintained by Edward Hasbrouck. Corrections, contributions (articles, graphics, photos, videos, links, etc.), and feedback are welcomed.