The protests across the country planned by anti-draft groups for the first day of mandatory registration July 21 for the most part will be peaceful, organizers say.
Nonetheless, the protests pose a serious threat to Jimmy Carter's re-election prospects.
Duane Shank, the director of the Committee Against Registration and the Draft , a coalition of more than 50 anti- draft groups around the country, says "there are a lot of young people who don't normally vote who could well get out and vote" against President Carter because he favors registration. Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagain and independent candidate John Anderson do not favor draft registration in peacetime.
Mr. Shank says that polls show that 60 percent of the young men between the draft registration ages of 18 to 26 are opposed to peacetime registration and many "may hinge their vote on that issue."
This does not mean that 60 percent of these young men will not register, even though the committee expects that many hundreds of protests will be held at US post offices on Monday. But people who register so as not to break the law may take other steps to oppose draft registration -- including voting.
Mr. Shank maintains that many anti-draft groups will go so far as to actively support Mr. Carter's opponents. This is similar to promises by some women's groups supporting the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that they will campaign against Ronald Reagan unless a pro-ERA resolution is reinstated into the platform at the National Republican Convention in Detroit.
Columbia University student Robert Polner, who is an editor of the school's highly respected newspaper, the Columbia Daily Spectator, has closely covered the new anti-draft movement in New York City. H says he has not seen any evidence that local anti-draft groups will openly support Mr. Anderson or Mr. Reagan. However, he does find a lot of individual student sentiment for Mr. Anderson.
He adds that from every report he has the planned demonstrations would be peaceful, with anti-draft activists plying registrants with leaflets and arguments on why they should not register.
Basically, other student activists say, Ronald Reagan is too conservative on the other issues, such as ERA, to win substantial support from students in anti-draft groups. Some of them feel Mr. Reagan came out against the draft because he didn't want to intensify student opposition to his campaign.
Bur Mr. Shank says the former California governor is only following historic precedent. "Historically, the Republican Party has been much more opposed to a draft than the Democratic Party," he says.
Meanwhile, spokesmen for the Carter administrtion say they expect over 90 percent of the men of registration age will register.