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Know Your Draft Board

spreadsheet of draft board members

Lists of All Draft Board Members and Registrars in the U.S.

With almost 2,000 local draft boards with almost 10,000 members now set up across the country, there’s a good chance that one is near you. Almost 10,000 more people throughout the U.S. — including high school counselors, prison and probation officials, and staff of employment offices and job training agencies — have been officially deputized as Selective Service registrars.

Local draft boards and Selective Service registrars provide a ready-made opportunity to generate good publicity for anti-draft activism, and to stir up awareness of the draft within your local community.

The draft boards and registrars have been appointed and operate rather quietly, so it’s a good bet that your local media and most local activists don’t know that there’s a local draft board or designated Selective Service registrars for your county.

This article is a guide to researching a local draft board and/or local Selective Service registrars. It also suggests ways that such research could be used to benefit a local anti-draft organization.

Finding Out Who’s on the Local Draft Board

The Selective Service System doesn’t like to give out the names of draft board members or registrars, but we’ve done the work for you. We had to file a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Selective Service headquarters, and then appeal when our initial request was completely denied, before we finally got most of the information we had requested. The whole process took more than three months, but that’s not bad, as FOIA requests go. The Selective Service System has generally been more responsive to FOIA requests than many other agencies.

Here are the lists of local draft board members and registrars throughout the U.S. that we received, as of 17 March 2021. This is the first time, and the only place, that these lists have ever been made available on the Internet:

  • Draft Board Members (The members of the National Appeal Board (NAB) are listed first, followed by members of local boards (LB) and District Appeal Boards (DAB) sorted by home state, county, and city or town. If you don’t see any local board members listed in your county, or fewer than five, check neighboring counties: In some lightly-populated areas, one local board board is assigned jurisdiction over more than one county. The members of the National Appeal Board are Albert Gonzales (Colorado Springs, CO), Betsy Levin (Washington, DC), Jan Scruggs (Annapolis, MD), Jane Macon (San Antonio, TX), and Barbara White (Austin, TX). If anyone interviews them, please let me know what you learn. Some people have reported difficulty opening the .xlsx file, particualrly on smartphones. If you don’t see the complete list of draft board members, try this PDF version.)
  • Selective Service Registrars (Registrars are volunteers deputized to register young men with the Selective Service System.)
  • Selective Service Reserve Force Officers (RFOs are members of the military reserve forces assigned to provide logistical and other support to the Selective Service System, especially if a draft is activated.)
  • Selective Service State Directors (Some states and territories are missing. We assume these directorships were vacant at the time of our request.)

(See this article for more about these terms and the structure and functions of the Selective Service System.)

Who’s on the Draft Board?

There are five members on each local or appeal board. Most local boards are assigned to hear claims for deferments and exemptions by residents of a single county, but populous counties typically have several local boards and some local boards have jurisdiction over several less-populous counties. Draft board members are appointed for 20-year terms, so major waves of vacancies come every 20 years. The list we’ve posted includes the date each draft board member was appointed, so you can easily tell when terms will be expiring and vacancies might be opening up on your local board. The terms of those appointed in 1980-1981 when the present system was established expired, and those who had completed their terms were reappointed or replaced, in 2000-2001. Another wave of new or renewal appointments came in 2020-2021. Not all draft board members serve out their full terms, of course, and there is some turnover and a trickle of appointments all the time.

Why do people apply for appointment as a member of a draft board? That’s a good question you can ask them! Not many people apply, and Selective service often has difficulty filling vacancies. The workload of training is minimal as long as a draft isn’t activated. Many of those who apply do so as a relatively easy way to obtain an impressive-looking “Presidential appointment” to put on their resume. It looks and sounds especially good if they are running for local political office. According to internal meeting notes we obtained in response to another FOIA request, Selective Service officials told the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service that “they assume a significant percentage [of local board members] would resign if the draft were activated”, presumably because they sought appointment for prestige or just for something to put on their resume, and aren’t really committed to doing as much work as would be required of them in the event of a draft.

Contacting Local Board Members and Registrars

Once you have the names, you’ll need to find the telephone numbers or postal or e-mail addresses. Selective Service won’t give out postal or e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, ages, or any other “personally identifiable information” for board members or registrars.

Google the names of the board members and the cities or towns where they live. If you’re lucky, one or two members will have sufficiently unusual names that they can be found easily.

You might find a phone number, e-mail address, postal address, or social media account that you can DM or send a friend request to. A Web search may turn up a street address in an online record of a real estate transaction, building permit, application for a zoning variance, etc.

Many draft board members are small business owners or professionals. They may have their own business or professional Web site or be listed in a professional or chamber-of-commerce directory.

If you don’t find them on the Web, try searching Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media sites.

Draft board members tend to be older, so they might still have landlines. Search 411.com by name and city or town for telephone numbers. Make like a reporter and call every “Ethel Jones” with a listed phone number in the right city or town until you find the one you want.

Similarly, if you find e-mail or postal addresses for more than one “Ethel Jones” in the right town, send them each a polite note explaining that you are interested in talking with members of the Selective Service local board for your area. There’s a good chance the right one will respond.

If you get in touch with some members of the local board, see if they will put you in touch with any of the the others, or tell you anything that might help you locate them.

If Web and social media searches aren’t enough, try voter registration lists. Voter registration lists are public records kept by the county, city, or town clerk or election office. These aren’t generally online, so you’ll probably have to make some phone calls to find the right government office, and then go there in person. Voter registration lists are public records that always include name and home address; they may also include age, occupation, and sometimes a phone number.

In a small community, you can probably find every member if you make a reasonable effort. In a large city, there may be several boards, and you may just want to get statistical information on most of the members. This is where voter registration information can really help you out.

Journalists do this sort of research every day to find people involved in news events. Even if you can’t find all the members of the local board, a good local reporter probably can if you give them the names and home towns from the lists above.

Selective Service registrars are appointed based on their jobs in schools, prisons, employment agencies, etc.. The list of registrars identifies their affiliation, so they should be easy to find.

Now What?

You may want to make personal contact with some or all of the draft board members and/or registrars. Reasons for personal contact might include a desire to convince them of the wrongness of their ways, journalistic interviews, or simple curiosity. I was fascinated by the results of the interviews I did, and embarrassed by my own preconceived notions of what the board members would be like.

Draft counselors might want to meet the board and find out which members seem especially hostile or supportive toward Conscientious Objectors and others who will apply for deferments. Early personal contact, if it’s friendly, will make the board look more favorably on your counselees in the event of a draft. You may well find that a few peacenik types have infiltrated the board. Think carefully before you blow their cover! Pro-peace board members could be dismissed arbitrarily by Selective Service.

Interviews with draft board members might also turn up political or racial prejudices that will need to be confronted if the draft returns. Documenting these prejudices might help registrants with their appeals. It could also provide ammunition for future local protests against unfair decisions by the board.

Don’t assume, as I foolishly did, that all draft board members are going to be reactionary supporters of U.S. imperialism. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Making board members angry at you won’t help stop the draft. Be careful that you don’t prompt a board member to decide that, because you were abusive and hostile, everybody who claims to be a CO is therefore a liar.

Getting Publicity

I recently interviewed the draft board in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, and from those interviews wrote an article that was published in a liberal local weekly newspaper. I think the subject could be made interesting to even a conservative newspaper or other news outlet, if the right approach was used.

There would be three ways to approach “exposing” the existence of the local draft board: writing an article for a local news outlet, getting a local journalist someone else with a media platform (such as a prominent local blogger, columnist, etc.) to cover the story, or organizing an action.

My approach was to write a newspaper article. If you’re not a writer, you might prefer to do some research and give the results to a journalist. Someone who is sympathetic to draft resistance would be ideal, but I suspect that many journalists who don’t care about the draft one way or another would find the topic hot-and-juicy enough to merit investigation. In either case, the trick is to give a local newspaper or other news outlet a topic that is unusual and controversial.

The mere fact that a draft board was set up in town without any public notice (if in fact that is what happened in your town) may be enough to make the subject “newsworthy.” It worked in Santa Cruz. But there are other angles to take as well. Obviously, if the media is sympathetic, you could write (or get someone else to write) a straightforward political critique of the existence of draft boards, connecting the boards to resumption of the draft and U.S. intervention abroad. (Substitute whatever politics you prefer.) Most likely, however, the media outlets with the largest audiences won’t go for that approach.

Another way to approach the topic is to look at the socioeconomic, ethnic, gender, and age profile of the board members. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive. It turned out that four of the five board members were affluent over-30 white males, in a county that is not particularly wealthy and that has a large Hispanic population.

The idea is that if boards are unrepresentative they will probably discriminate against certain draftees, even if the board members have good intentions. Boards will make “judgmental” decisions that are invariably tainted by their own experiences. Older, affluent white men will tend not to understand a low income Chicano’s hardship situation or CO beliefs. And so forth.

Question [from Sen. Mark Hatfield]: What would you think of restricting membership on local draft boards to persons between the ages of 18 and 26, so that decisions concerning the lives and possible deaths of young people are made by their peers?

Answer [by John P. White, Deputy Director, Selective Service System]: Selective Service strongly believes that local draft boards must be representative of the community in terms of race, national origin, sex, and age. The difficult question[s] on of fact in the classification process will be answered most equitably by such a representative board. We believe thus principle is a tradition of American politics and Government.

We would anticipate that individuals aged 18 to 26 will be members of local draft boards, but we believe restricting membership to this age group would violate long standing principles of American Government.

[Military Draft Registration, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Independent Agencies of the Senate Appropriations Committee, 11 March 1980]

Yet another angle is the issue of secrecy. Was the board set up with ample public notice? Did the community as a whole get a chance to apply to be on the board? Did the military reservists who do most of the recruiting for the board select their friends, Rotarians, and members of the local “establishment”? Did Selective Service succeed in recruiting a representative board? What efforts did they make to recruit women, poor people, young people, and minority folks?

Many people will feel the secretive, selective way that the boards were recruited is improper, even though they might not be strongly opposed to draft boards per se.

Finally, some journalists may like the story idea, or may keep it on file for future use, as a “local angle” for the next time they are discussing national news about Selective Service and the possibility of a draft. Knowing about the existence of this local infrastructure for a draft may make everyone in the community take the reality of the threat of a draft more seriously. It’s not “just registration” when draft boards are being trained in how to classify and judge which registrants will get sent to war, and which ones will be deferred or exempted.

Actions

If your organization is robust enough, you may want to plan an action to publicize the board’s existence. A great target for an action would be the board’s annual training meeting. Ask the members when and where they plan to meet and show up with a crowd.

Selective Service offices are another possible target for actions. In the past, there have been pickets and blockades at the Selective Service national headquarters and at some of its regional offices. Even a one-person picket by Fred Moore of the National Resistance Committee at the regional office in Denver got excellent local press coverage because it was so unusual.

As of March 2021, Selective Service offices were located at:

  • National Headquarters: 1515 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA; phone 703-605-4000
  • Region I (Northeast and Midwest), Data Management Center, and U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command: 2834 Green Bay Rd., Building 3400, Naval Station Great Lakes, North Chicago, IL; phone 847-688-7990
  • Region II (South): Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Marietta, GA; phone 720-941-1670
  • Region III (West): 3401 Quebec St., Denver, CO; phone 770-590-6602

Final Thoughts

This article only suggest ways to publicize the existence of draft boards. Nothing here should be taken as a limitation on what people “ought” to be doing. What I hope this article has done is raise awareness of some good opportunities for the draft resistance movement to remind Washington, and the rest of the country, that draft registration is no joke, but is part of active planning and preparation for a draft, and that we will resist at every stage of a draft.

[Adapted and updated, with permission of the original author, from an article first published in Resistance News #20, 1 March 1986]


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This page most recently modified 6 April 2021. This site is maintained by Edward Hasbrouck. Corrections, contributions (articles, graphics, photos, videos, links, etc.), and feedback are welcomed.