Youth Vote: The Draft in Your Future?

This will be the first installment in the Youth Vote series.

On July 7, 1971 the twenty-sixth amendment was certified by the Administrator of General Services granting anybody aged eighteen or older the right to vote. The amendment was proposed by Senator Jennings Randolph (D) of West Virginia in response to procedures within the Selective Service Draft of 1969. Anybody aged eighteen or older could be drafted and fight America's War, but they could not vote. The amendment was ratified by thirty-nine states (eventually forty-two) making Randolph's amendment law.

The 1972 Presidential Election marked the first and largest participation by voters aged 18-24 in history. Youth participation has declined since, but US involvement in foreign war seems to peek youth interest; the reason, conscription or the draft. Below is a graph detailing youth participation in past presidential elections:

Source: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement

With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the possibility of conscription remains. The most recent attempt (or perhaps more correctly, bluff) to reinstate the military draft occurred in 2003 when Representative Charles Rangle (D) of New York proposed House Resolution 163, this version offered no deferments of any kind once over the age of twenty. The bill was never written for serious consideration but rather as a protest to the currently ongoing war. Rangel issued another similar resolution in 2007 (HR 393) that called upon "all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service." Representative Rangel issued the follow statements on the introduction of HR 393:

"I don't expect my bill to pass; my purpose in introducing this legislation is for it to serve as a constant reminder that we have lost 2,200 of the best, brightest and bravest Americans, have had thousands more maimed, and countless Iraqi citizens killed. As the President speaks of a national response involving the military option, military service should be a shared sacrifice. Right now the only people being asked to sacrifice in any way are those men and women who with limited options chose military service and now find themselves in harm's way in Iraq. A draft would ensure that every economic group would have to do their share, and not allow some to stay behind while other people's children do the fighting."

"The Republican Leadership responded to my first bill by procedurally preventing debate on the issues it raised; let us see how they try to avoid facing the question of shared sacrifice this time."


The Republican leadership has remained passive on conscription dating back to Nixon. In the 1968 Election Nixon promised to eliminate the draft, he did just the opposite. The lottery occurred days before his inauguration and the draft was extended two years to 1973 during his first term. After Vietnam ended the draft died. Today the Selective Service System remains in the event "the country should need it." The SSS has procedures in place if the draft where needed today.

Why does any of this matter? Simple, watch this video of John McCain:

While John McCain agrees with the establishment a of draft, Barack Obama is committed to ending the war in Iraq.

With the upcoming election between Barack Obama and John McCain the draft appears to be on the table. If you are between the age of 18-26 a draft will effect you. Make your voice heard by voting. Register to vote, and request an absentee ballot (Google Absentee Ballot and find your state's page) if you attend an out of state college or will not be able to vote in your legal state of residence.

Look for the presidential debate on September 26th to have at least one question pertaining to a draft. The facts show that when military service is an issue the youth vote shows up.

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4 Response(s) to Youth Vote: The Draft in Your Future?

9/22/2008 9:47:22 AM CT

This is ridiculous. McCain was speaking hypothetically, and in fact, has denied repeatedly that he will attempt to restore the draft. In fact, Barry Obama's plans for national service sound closer to a draft (non-military style), closer to forced labor than does McCain's.

But, whatever. I suspect that this site is yet one more David Axelrod "astroturf" attempt to mislead and misinform the general public, and that as such, this comment will never see the light of day.
9/23/2008 11:19:06 PM CT

Oh right, which candidate do you really think would institute the draft? Perhaps the one who wants us to go to war with Iraq, Iran and Russia simultaneously. As for service, what's wrong with lending a hand to someone who isn't in your country club.
9/24/2008 12:27:10 AM CT

9/24/2008 2:04:03 AM CT

actually, pique.

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