Voting from space is a thing.
With no waiting in line, and a voting booth just a short distance away, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins on Thursday cast her presidential election ballot from the confines of the International Space Station (ISS).
A photo posted on the NASA Astronauts Twitter account shows Rubins in front of a pen-and-paper “ISS voting booth” sign stuck on the outside of a small cubicle that might also serve as the bathroom for all we know. A comment with the tweet reads: “From the International Space Station: I voted today.”
From the International Space Station: I voted today
— Kate Rubins pic.twitter.com/DRdjwSzXwy
— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) October 22, 2020
Like other Americans currently outside of the U.S., Rubins was able to vote using the absentee ballot system.
In her case, following the approval of a Federal Postcard Application, a secure electronic ballot was generated by the Clerk’s office of Harris County — the location of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas — and sent by email (with crew member-specific credentials) to the astronaut. These credentials allowed Rubins to access the secure ballot.
After casting her vote, the secure, completed ballot is sent by email to the County Clerk’s Office to be officially recorded.
“The clerk has their own password to ensure they are the only one who can open the ballot,” NASA explains on its website.
The space agency notes that because astronauts move to Houston for their training, most of them choose to vote as Texas residents, though other arrangements can be made if a NASA astronaut on the ISS wants to vote as a resident of their home state.
“Legislation [was] passed a number of years ago to allow astronauts to vote in space,” Rubins said in a video recorded before departing for her six-month stint on the ISS earlier this month. “I think a lot of astronauts do this, they feel that it’s very important. It’s critical to participate in our democracy. We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space, and so we fill out a form and we vote via absentee ballot.”
She added: “I think it’s really important for everybody to vote and if we can do it from space then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”
Oddly enough, this isn’t Rubins’ first time to vote from space, as she happened to be aboard the ISS during the 2016 election, too (don’t worry, she’s been home in between).
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