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Most Women Oppose Having to Register for the Draft

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Since Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced late last year that the military would open up all combat roles to women, some top military generals have said that women like men should be required to register with the federal Selective Service System in the event there is a need for a military draft. Men like that idea, but most women don't.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 49% of all Likely U.S. Voters agree that women should be required to register for the draft. Nearly as many (44%) disagree. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But while 61% of male voters believe women should be required to register for the draft, only 38% of female voters agree. Most women (52%) oppose such a requirement, and 10% more are undecided.

The draft hasn’t been used since the Vietnam War, and most voters hope to keep it that way. Just 29% of all voters think the United States should have a military draft, although that is up 11 points from five years ago.  Fifty-eight percent (58%) still oppose a draft, while 14% are not sure.

Thirty percent (30%) believe U.S. citizens should be required to spend one year in public service. That’s unchanged from 2011. Fifty-four percent (54%) disagree with such a requirement, while 16% are undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 3-4, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Voters in surveys for years have supported women in the military being allowed to fight on the front lines and perform all the combat roles that men do.  Women are more enthusiastic about this than men are.

Thirty-six percent (36%) of men think the United States should have a military draft, a view shared by just 21% of women. Men are also more supportive of requiring U.S. citizens to spend one year in public service.

Voters under 40 oppose a military draft more than their elders do. These younger voters, the ones who would be drafted if a draft was reinstated, are slightly less supportive of making women register as well.

Most Republicans (53%) oppose making women register for the draft. Democrats by a 49% to 43% margin and 58% of voters not affiliated with either major political party favor requiring women to register. Democratic voters are more supportive than the others of a mandatory year of public service.

Most active and retired military personnel support making women eligible for all combat roles. 

After two women became the first of their gender to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School last year, 61% of voters favored the military allowing women to participate in combat missions with special operations forces like the Rangers and the Navy SEALs. But overwhelming majorities of voters think women should be required to pass the same physical tests as men if they are allowed to serve in these elite combat units.

Voters are almost evenly divided over the Pentagon's decision last year to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of Americans favor raising the minimum age for enlisting in the military from 17 to 21, but most 53% are opposed to the idea.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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