Government Accidentally Reminds 121-Year-Olds to Register for the Draft

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 11 2014 4:26 PM

A Government Computer Glitch Reminded 121-Year-Olds to Register for the Draft

draft
The Selective Service: Super fun, super chill.

Screencap from the Selective Service.

There hasn’t been a draft in the U.S. since 1973, but registration is still mandatory for it. It doesn't matter if you’re 18 or 121, you gotta be on that list.

Actually it does matter if you’re 121, because you only need to register until you’re 25. Also, if you are 121, you are presumably not alive. But the Selective Service, which keeps draft records and sends registration forms, accidentally sent reminders to 14,215 men from Pennsylvania who were born between 1893 and 1897.

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First of all, it’s pretty amazing that personal information from that time is even digitized. The problem arose when the state of Pennsylvania sent the 14,215 entries to the Selective Service last month in a “routine automated data transfer.” The Selective Service only uses two digits for birth year and the state of Pennsylvania has different formatting, so the 1893-to-1897 babies that the Selective Service notified were supposed to be 1993-to-1997 millennials.

The Selective Service started sending reminder letters to the old dudes on June 30, and would have sent them to more than 27,000 men in all if phone calls hadn't started pouring in about the mix-up. A statement on the agency website notes, “Selective Service regrets any inconvenience caused the families of these men and assures them that the error has been corrected and no action is required on their part.”

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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