On Thursday, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins voted from space – about 250 miles above our planet Earth – secure inside the International Space Station (ISS) in Low Earth Orbit. The 42-year-old American astronaut even marked a suite aboard the ISS as “ISS Voting Booth,” and then revealed that “From the International Space Station: I voted today”.
This is the second time that Rubins will be voting from space aboard the ISS. She did the same in 2016 during her sojourn to space. The astronaut left Earth for the ISS on October 14 – which was her birthday – for six and half months of scientific work in space, Space reports.
“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said in a video she posted from space after her voting exercise. “And if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”
She voted from the ISS as a Texan resident of Harris County. Since 2007, lawmakers passed a law that enables astronauts to vote from the ISS as registered Texans – largely because NASA astronauts move to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for space training. However, astronauts who wish to vote from the ISS as residents of their home state can do so through special arrangements.
“Voting in space has been possible since 1997 when a bill passed to legally allow voting from space in Texas,” NASA revealed. “Since then, several NASA astronauts have exercised this civic duty from orbit. As NASA works toward sending astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and eventually on to Mars, the agency plans to continue to ensure astronauts who want to vote in space are able to, no matter where in the solar system they may be.”
When an astronaut is voting from space, ballots from the particular state county where they are registered are tested on a space station training computer, before an original ballot is generated and then uploaded to the ISS with the specific credentials of each astronaut. After an astronaut has voted, the ballot is delivered back to Earth electronically where they are officially recorded by election officials at the particular county.