By Allie Amado
Absentee voting dates back to the Civil War, when soldiers mailed ballots to family members to cast by proxy in their name. These practices became official in the 1900s when states established processes to allow ballots to be mailed directly to election officials if they had a state-approved excuse for casting an absentee ballot. California was the first state to eliminate the excuse requirement for voting by mail in 1980, followed by other western states, some of which have implemented a permanent mail-in voting process. In 1996, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas opened their election process by permitting in-person early voting in satellite polling places across the state. In 2001, a challenge to Oregon’s no-excuse absentee ballots, in Voting Integrity Project, Inc., v. Keisling, resulted in the holding that early voting is legal, despite the federal law setting a uniform day of voting, as long as ballots are not counted until Election Day.