California Senate To Vote on Automatic Sign-Up for Military Draft

The California Senate will vote this week on a bill to automatically register register draft-age applicants for driver’s licenses and state IDs with the Selective Service System for a possible future military draft.

The floor vote in the state Senate on SB-1081 is expected this week and could come at any time. You can use this form to send a message today to your state Senator to oppose SB-1081.

SB-1081 was held in the ‘suspense’ file by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but was called up and sent to the floor for a vote by the full state Senate despite both Democratic and Republican opposing votes in committee, with only minor amendments that fail to assuage any of the opponents of the bill.

As amended, SB-1081 is still opposed by a diverse coalition including the ACLU, the California Immigrant Policy Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild.

SB-1081 was amended to exempt applicants for driver’s licenses or state IDs who can’t prove lawful residence (but who still need licenses to drive) from being automatically registered with the Selective Service System (SSS). But foreign students and H-1 visa holders, who often live in the USA for years and get regular driver’s licenses, are considered “nonimmigrants” and aren’t required or allowed to register with the SSS.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) would have to question every draft-aged applicant for a driver’s license about their immigration and visa status, and record this information, to determine which drivers’ information to send to the SSS. Otherwise, thousands of individuals who are neither required nor allowed to register with the SSS, and who wouldn’t be subject to a draft, would automatically be mis-registered with the SSS — rendering the registration database less accurate than ever.

The SSS only allows or requires individuals to register for the draft if they were assigned male at birth, regardless of current gender. But applicants can self-select whether to have an “M”, “F”, or “X” gender marker on their California driver’s license, and the same is now true for U.S. passports and Social Security accounts. Especially for individuals born outside the USA, there may be no record in any current Federal or state record of their sex as assigned at birth. So the DMV would also have to question every draft-age applicant about their sex as assigned at birth, and include this in DMV records, to determine who is, and who is not, required to register with the SSS.

All this would be costly. SB-1081 was amended to give the DMV more time to implement its requirements, but the analysis prepared for the Senate Appropriations Committee still found that it would have “unknown, likely significant” costs that would have to be borne from the state’s General Fund.

Tell your California Senator to just say “No” to SB-1081 and to using the state DMV to try to salvage the failed Federal scheme to gear up for a return to a military draft.

Edward Hasbrouck maintains the website and publishes the “Resistance News” newsletter. He was imprisoned in 1983-1984 for organizing resistance to draft registration.