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NASA astronauts cast their votes from space


Vasily Maximov | AFP | Getty Images

American democracy lives on – even from space.

At least two NASA astronauts serving on the International Space Station have cast their ballots for this year’s election.

Thanks to a 19-year-old Texas state law that allows astronauts to vote while living off-planet, Shane Kimbrough became the latest American to cast his ballot from space, the agency said. His colleague Kate Rubins, who has since returned from her mission, also filed a ballot before returning to Earth, in case her trip was delayed.

Voting is done using an absentee ballot sent to and from the International Space Station via a secure electronic connection. The addresses printed on the ballots read “low Earth orbit”.

Astronauts have been able to vote from space since 1997, when the Texas state legislature passed Rule 81.35. The rule was borne out of frustration from former Texas State Senator Mike Jackson, whose district included NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He was disappointed there was no way for astronauts to vote while serving in space.

“I can attest to how important one person’s vote is because my first election I won by seven votes out of over 26,000,” Jackson told NPR in 2008.

The first American astronaut to cast a ballot from space was David Wolf, who voted from Russia’s Mir space station in 1997.

See below for a NASA video where Rubins talks about voting from the ISS.

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