John T. Martin, a retired Army colonel who ran the Selective Service System in the District during the Vietnam war, dropped by the Distrtict Building early yesterday to ask the mayor if he could do it again this time around.

Martin, a big, friendly man who lapses easily into a brisk, military manner of speaking, learned that the mayor had not taken any action in the wake of President Carter's call Wednesday night for a resumption of regitration for the military draft.

If the draft registration works the way it did in the past, the person the mayor suggests as the local Selective Service chief probably will supervise the activities of several draft boards made up of local citizens.

"I do ot see any cuase for alarm at this stage because we are only talking about the registration," Martin said yesterday in his slightly crisp military way. "Before there could be any induction of young men who have registered it would be necessary for them to be classified. Classification is the forerunner of induction ...

"The president hasn't called for classification. Down the road, you're talking about classification, lottery and induction ..."

The local draft boards would supervise registration, clasification and ultimately the induction of youths into the armed services if these steps became necessary. The mayor's choice would technically be a presidential appointee and would report directly to the head of Selective Service.

During the Vietnam war, there were as many as 15 draft boards in the District, each with three to seven members. Arlington and Alexandria had one each; Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George's, three each.

As things stand now, the president is calling only for registration -- making a list of potentially eligible draftees.

Spokesmen for Mayor Marion Barry, Virginia Gov. John Dalton and Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes all said yesterday that nothing has yet been done on a local level to implement the president's wishes.

Martin, 59, watched the president on television Wednesday night.

"I don't think we're going to have a war, but the registration is good for the country," he said. "Without it, you really do not have any figures on the number of young men who might be available."

Martin said he thiks a lottery, the method of choosing draftees by picking dates out of a tumbler and matching them randomly with birthdates, is "the only fair method." This method was used between 1971 and 1973, when the draft ended. I Martin's view, it met with "very little objection."

Before he went by the District Building yesterday, Martin went to the national Selective Service headquarters at 600 E. St. NW, where he has many old friends.

"I just thought I'd drop by and see how the troopers were doing," he said.