In a ruling with strong national ramifications, a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday for the first time upheld a state's law mandating voting by mail.
In a 3-0 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rebuffed a challenge to Oregon's 1998 vote-by-mail statute from the Voting Integrity Project, a Virginia-based organization that contended the state law impermissibly conflicted with a federal law directing that everyone vote for president on the same day.
The appeals court acknowledged that Congress enacted a law in 1872 providing for presidential elections to be held throughout the nation on the same day. However, the court said that statute had implicitly been trumped by statutes providing for absentee balloting and a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the absentee ballot process.
The appellate judges said if they invalidated the Oregon law, the first in the nation to eliminate polling places, it could cast doubt on absentee balloting throughout the nation.
Under the law, Oregon voters receive their ballots in the mail and have between two and three weeks to return them by mail or at centralized drop-off locations.
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