Absentee voting is voting by people who are absent from the polling places on the day of an election. The first instance of absentee voting came during the Civil War, when Union soldiers were given the opportunity to vote in home district elections.
Attitudes towards absentee voting have changed. At first, absentee balloting was restricted to individuals doing active military service. However, last in Vermont (1896) and Kansas (1901 and 1911) extended the option to anyone who had a valid reason for being away from his home precinct on election day. This has become universal.
The trend has continued towards a more liberal interpretation, including absence due to illness or infirmity. Oregon voted in 1998 to make absentee voting moot by eliminating all physical voting places and conducting all elections by mail.