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date: 13 June 2024

Military and Absentee Voting in the United States: History and Modern Practicelocked

Military and Absentee Voting in the United States: History and Modern Practicelocked

  • Donald S. InbodyDonald S. InbodyDepartment of Political Science, Texas State University

Summary

The advent of absentee voting for American citizens began with the desire on the part of soldiers to participate in the electoral process. It was aided by politicians who wanted the support of those soldiers. The rise of absentee voting was later extended to nonmilitary Americans living overseas or otherwise away from their home precincts. Resistance to absentee voting was strong at first, largely on philosophical grounds (i.e., the question of why someone away from home would be interested in voting, or absentee voting inviting vote fraud). It was also resisted by political parties who were convinced that those voters may vote for the opposition candidate.

Gradually, in the post-World War II years, nearly all resistance faded but never disappeared. Vestigial perceptions of the voting habits of military personnel remained as late as the first years of the 21st century. Congress was convinced to pass several voting rights laws that eventually extended the right to vote to all Americans serving in the military or living overseas, although some barriers remain to be overcome.

Subjects

  • History and Politics
  • Political Behavior

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