Mail-in Voting Began on Civil War Battlefields

Mail-in Voting

American remote Mail-in voting, which has recently undergone renewed controversy—and popularity—was made possible by the 1860s. Most Civil War troops could vote in the 1864 election the same way as their parents back home. Whether they wanted to support Republican incumbent Abraham Lincoln or Democrat George McClellan.

On the front lines, voter registration lists were completed. The assembled troops served as de facto election judges and clerks. Voting rights were finally extended to those who lived distant from polling places from Kentucky to Vermont.

Though not without considerable legal obstacles and public mistrust. In 2020, more than a century and a half after it first became popular, voting by mail became a hot topic as the country dealt with a pandemic and a presidential election.

So, if you want to learn about the history of mail-in voting—and its rising popularity in the nation today y—it is provided below.

How the U.S. uses the mail to vote

In the U.S., there are two methods of voting by mail: absentee ballots, which are available to voters who are unable to cast a ballot in person, and vote by mail, which are available to all voters. At the same time, absentee voting is available in every state.

In certain states, voters must have a good excuse to obtain a ballot by mail, such as being unwell or temporarily living outside the state. Right now, eight states only hold elections by mail, and 27 states have “no-excuse absentee voting,” which allows anyone to seek an absentee ballot.

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The first vote-by-mail uproar

The Civil War is the origin of the debate around mail-in voting. Before that, Pennsylvania was the only state to permit soldiers to cast absentee ballots. That changed as the 1864 presidential election approached, and hundreds of soldiers remained in service far from home.

Twenty northern states altered their laws from 1862 to 1865 to allow soldiers who were serving overseas to vote. Republican candidates backed the cause and urged soldiers to vote. While Democrats were concerned that Republican military leadership would meddle with the results.

It swiftly turned the issue politicized. As a result of the complaints about Republican meddling and accusations that they were attempting to steal the vote. They were widely mocked as anti-soldier and saw a decline in their support. Four states overturned these statutes after nine state supreme courts heard challenges to them. Also debated whether remote voting was constitutional or not.

Supporters of mail-in balloting claim that Within the limits of its constitutional authority. The government had a duty to put the more pressing need to let absent soldiers vote. It was during a time of war ahead of the value of election “purity”. Despite the significantly greater danger of fraud, “David Collins, a historian, discusses the war effort in his thesis.

Voter fraud and modern controversies

But during the past 150 years, these concerns have all but disappeared. By the end of the 1800s, many states had changed their laws to permit voters to be confined to their homes or on the road to cast ballots. Today, mail-in voting includes many anti-fraud safeguards.

Such as address validation, drop boxes in secure places, and signature verification. There is no proof that mail-in ballots lead to more electoral fraud. According to a Washington Post investigation, 0.0025 percent of the ballots cast in 2016. While in 2018 elections were thought to be probably fraudulent.

Only 143 crimes involving fake absentee ballots have been proven in 20 years, and 250 million mail-in ballots. Thirty-three million votes—or over a quarter of the total—were cast via mail in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump later created a panel investigating voter fraud after alleging millions of people cast illegitimate ballots. It ultimately broke up since he had no proof for his assertion. Furthermore, he claimed that “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again” if mail-in ballots were widely used.

However, research from Stanford University that looked at three states’ elections from 1996 to 2018 revealed no political advantage to mail-in voting.

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