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Flowcharts of draft registration and Selective Service procedures and choices

Download these flowcharts as a 2-sided, one-sheet PDF

(More about Selective Service contingency plans for a draft)

The diagrams below show a decision tree of choices, options, and possible consequences with respect to decisions about whether or not to register with the Selective Service System (first diagram) and what can happen after you register, if you register and if there is a draft (second diagram).

Hexagonal orange boxes are points at which registrants/draftees have to make choices. Choices are shown by red lines. Some are yes or no decisions, others have multiple choices.

These diagrams do not show what might happen after cases are referred to the Department of Justice. Since 1988, the only sanctions for nonregistration have been financial and administrative, not criminal. The SSS refers more than 100,000 names a year of possible nonregistrants to the Department of Justice, and the DoJ does nothing with them. It’s hard to predict how many cases, or which ones, might be selected for investigation or prosecution if people were being drafted, or how they would be handled.

Similarly, these diagram do not show any of the possible actions or outcomes once draftees are inducted into the military. After a person enlists or accepts induction into the military, any offenses or violations would be punishable by a court-martial under military law, not in civilian courts.

The Selective Service System sends out millions of threatening letters. If you don’t have to sign for them, they can’t prove you received them or use them against you. They are junk mail, and can and should be ignored. Do sign for any certified letters from the Selective Service System, Department of Justice, or office of the U.S. Attorney. Do not say anything to the F.B.I. Tell your parents, other family members, friends, and housemates not to sign for nay letters for you or talk to the F.B.I. about you. Anything you or they say can, and will, be used against you. Contact a lawyer and/or a draft counselor if you receive a certified letter from the SSS or DoJ or if you or any of your family or friends are contacted by the F.B.I.

(For a historical comparison with the way the draft worked during the U.S. war in Indochina, see this flowchart produced in 1967 by the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild.)

Selective Service registration flowchart

Selective Service System flowchart

Download these flowcharts as a 2-sided, one-sheet PDF

Summary checklist of advice: I don’t want to be drafted. What should I do?

Leaflet: What to do if you don’t want to be drafted?

More FAQs and leaflets about the draft, draft registration, and conscientious objection


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This page most recently modified 30 July 2022. This site is maintained by Edward Hasbrouck. Corrections, contributions (articles, graphics, photos, videos, links, etc.), and feedback are welcomed.