The U.S. Just Sent Thousands of Draft Notices to Men Born from ’93 to ’97—1893 to 1897

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 10 2014 5:42 PM

The U.S. Just Sent Thousands of Draft Notices to Men Born from ’93 to ’97—1893 to 1897

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America's new secret weapon?

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Registering for the draft is the law for young men in America. If you were born in, say, 1996 that means you’re on the hook if duty ever calls. But what if you were born in 1896? You’d imagine the American military probably doesn’t need you on high alert for war—because, after all, you’re already dead. That problem of not-being-alive-anymore didn’t seem to raise any red flags with the folks in charge of the nation’s military draft, as the Selective Service System recently managed to “mistakenly [send] notices to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897, ordering them to register for the nation's military draft and warning that failure to do so is ‘punishable by a fine and imprisonment,’” the Associated Press reports.

The agency realized the slight miscalculation in centuries when confused family members began calling, and presumably pointing out that registering dead relatives was going to be tough. Here’s more on how the generational mix up came to be from the AP:

The glitch, it turns out, originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation during a transfer of nearly 400,000 records to the Selective Service. A clerk working with the state's database failed to select the century, producing records for males born between 1993 and 1997 - and for those born a century earlier, PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said Thursday… The Selective Service didn't initially catch it because the state used a two-digit code to indicate year of birth, spokesman Pat Schuback said. The federal agency identified 27,218 records of men born in the 1800s, began mailing notices to them on June 30, and began receiving calls from family members on July 3. By that time, it had sent 14,250 notices in error.
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The youngest of the potential draftees would be 117.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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