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Wayne State University

Political Science

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Absentee Soldier Voting In Civil War Law And Politics, David A. Collins Jan 2014

Absentee Soldier Voting In Civil War Law And Politics, David A. Collins

Wayne State University Dissertations

During the Civil War, twenty northern states changed their laws to permit absent soldiers to vote. Before enactment of these statutes, state laws had tethered balloting to the voter's community and required in-person participation by voters. Under the new laws, eligible voters - as long as they were soldiers - could cast ballots in distant military encampments, far from their neighbors and community leaders. This dissertation examines the legal conflicts that arose from this phenomenon and the political causes underlying it.

Legally, the laws represented an abrupt change, contrary to earlier scholarship viewing them as culminating a gradual process of relaxing ...