About one of every three American men turning 18 this year will fail to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of their birthdays, and therefore will be in technical violation of federal law.
The good news is the Department of Justice has not prosecuted a young man for late registration in recent memory. The bad news is that failure to register still carries consequences. Nonregistrants are barred from executive-branch employment and from receiving federal student loans or other kinds of aid for postsecondary education. Male immigrants who fail to register cannot become citizens.
The trend on draft registration has been downward, and enough to cause concern, since the Persian Gulf War. That is about to change thanks to new cooperation from the states, says Lewis C. Brodsky, deputy director of Selective Service.
Over the past two years, 25 states have passed laws linking Selective Service registration with applications for driver's licenses. Male applicants will be able to check a block or sign on a line to give their states permission to pass on to the Selective Service enough data to register them automatically.