What is the Selective Service and who has to register

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jan 06, 2020

In the hours after the United States launched an attack that resulted in the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, interest in Selective Service peaked.

According to Google Trends, searches for Selective Service jumped more than 10 times on January 4 than normal. The US government said that "misinformation" caused a spike in web traffic on the Selective Service website last week.

"Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time," a tweet from Selective Service said. "If you are attempting to register or verify registration, please check back later today as we are working to resolve this issue. We appreciate your patience."

The last time the US has implemented a draft was 1974.

Who must register?

Selective Service says all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants residing in the United States who are 18 through 25 years of age must register, with only few exceptions. The exceptions apply to those who are active military; those enrolled at a service academy; students at officer procurement programs at several universities; lawful non-immigrants on non-immigrant visas; seasonal agricultural workers; incarcerated, or hospitalized, or institutionalized for medical reasons; and individuals who are born female and have changed their gender to male.

Currently, women are not required or allowed to register, but that could change due to a 2019 court ruling. In National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System, a federal judge ruled it was unconstitutional to only require men to register for the draft.

A national commission looking into the draft is slated to issue a report in March that could alter Selective Service, and could eliminate any differences in registration requirements between men and women, or even eliminate the draft altogether.

"Our bipartisan Commission was created amid a debate over whether the selective service registration requirement should be extended to include women," the commission said in an interim report. "This debate began after the Secretary of Defense opened all military combat roles to women in 2015. The Commission is charged with considering whether the nation still requires a registration system, whether all individuals should be required to register for a potential draft, and whether certain changes might enhance the existing system to meet evolving national security needs."

Registration for Selective Service for most males 18 to 25 is required for some government programs, such as federal financial aid at colleges.

Those required to register for Selective Service could face steep consequences for not registering. According to the Selective Service Act, not registering after receiving Selective Service reminder and/or compliance mailings could be punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison term of up to five years, or a combination of both.

As of 2017, the government estimates a 91 percent compliance rate.

While the draft has generally been used for military purposes, the Selective Service Act stipulates that the president and Congress could declare a draft for any national emergency.

In the event of a draft, Selective Service would first hold a lottery among those age 20, then aged 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 19 and 18 in that order. To see more about how a draft would be conducted, click here .