Story at a glance

  • Many Americans are voting remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • NASA astronaut Kate Rubins voted through a secure electronic ballot from space.
  • Rubins and other astronauts are based in Texas, where a state law allows for voting from space.

How do you postmark a ballot from space? 

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins sent hers in through a secure electronic ballot using a makeshift voting booth on the International Space Station. 

 

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins told The Associated Press (AP) before leaving for space in October. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.” 


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Yes, that’s legal — at least for residents of Texas, where many astronauts live in the vicinity of the Johnson Space Center in Houston (Yes, Houston? We hear you.) A 1997 law allows astronauts to cast their vote when in "spaceflight," which is forwarded from Mission control to the space station to the county clerk. 

Rubins is the first person to sequence DNA in space, but not the first to vote from space. In fact this isn’t even her first time — she and several other astronauts did the same for the 2016 election. 

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins told AP. “We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.” 


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Published on Oct 23, 2020