By expanding the draft to women, the U.S. could also improve voter registration and turnout.
A new court decision in Houston, Texas, may lead to women joining the same military draft as men. In a statement addressing the constitutional legitimacy of a male-only draft, Judge Gray H. Miller of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas has argued that leaving women out of the draft is unconstitutional due to the recent legislation allowing women to join any combat role.
Miller stated, “While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination, men and women are now “similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft.” Due to this change in policy, women aged 18 to 25 may now be forced to sign up for the draft. The draft currently requires that all 18-year-old men are required to sign up in case of future need and are required to stay in the system until they reach 25 years of age. If one does not sign up for the draft, the person may be fined, imprisoned or denied services like student loans.
If all citizens, male and female, are going to be put in the selective service, the information should also be used to register them to vote. It would help make the registration system quick and efficient, as everyone could be signed up for the draft and be registered to vote at the same time. Unlike the military draft, this system would be completely optional and contain no punishments for those who choose not to register.
Many people are unable to vote for a variety of reasons. According to the Pew Research Center, four percent of Americans who did not vote in 2016 faced registration problems and 14 percent were unable to vote due to conflicting schedules or being too busy. A large quantity of citizens are unable to vote due to problems with the registration process.
One potential reason for this is a general lack of knowledge about registration and how to vote. Some citizens, particularly young ones, feel that they don’t understand the voting and registration processes. In an interview with NPR on voting, young Marine Corps veteran Shelby Mabis said, “From what all I know about voting is that you show up to a poll place and you vote, but I don’t know what to bring. I don’t even know what happens […] there.” This problem of not knowing what to do at the voting booth could be changed by combining the draft and voting registration processes. While a future education expansion on the intricacies of our voting system would be another good step, providing a simple voting registration provides a good first step in the right direction.
This consolidation could be easily done because voting registration and signing up for the draft require the same forms of information. The draft requires one’s name, physical address, email address, phone number and social security number. Voting requires one’s current address in the state and a form of photo ID at the voting booth. The draft system could easily share this information with a state voting agency in order for each new 18-year-old to join the draft as well as be registered to vote. This could be done by providing a box at the bottom of the draft legislation that asks if you want this information to be spread to a voting office in your state of origin. This process may put a new task on the draft agency, but it would be beneficial as a tool to help provide distinct and easy opportunities for people to register to vote.
Signing up for selective service is already necessary for men seeking federal aid in education. Therefore, the addition of voting registration to the application would make it so everyone in the United States would have a quick and efficient solution. A collaborative effort between state voting agencies and the selective service system would not require a wide-sweeping change of policy and would help boost the number of United States citizens who are registered to vote.