US Election: NASA Astronaut Votes Early From Space Station

Katie Ramirez
October 27, 2020

Rubins, 42, smiled from the International Space Station as she officially voted via their "ISS Voting Booth" ahead of the November 3 election. They have said that since then, several astronauts have practiced their right to vote even when they were several miles away from Earth.

This will not be the first or last time Americans will be casting vote from outside this world.

Rubins shared her voting selfie from orbit after stating before her launch earlier this month that she would cast her ballot from the International Space Station.

"After a successful test, a secure electronic ballot generated by the clerk's office of Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas, is uplinked by Johnson's Mission Control Center to the voting crew member", NASA says.

The post featured a photograph of Rubins, her blonde hair floating in the zero-gravity environment, in front of a white enclosure with a paper sign that reads 'ISS voting booth'.

This is the second time that Rubins will be voting from space aboard the ISS. Two U.S. astronauts returned from the ISS in August aboard the capsule after a two-month mission.

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Once the FCPA is approved, the county clerk who manages elections in the astronaut's home county sends a test ballot to a team at NASA's Johnson Space Center, according to NASA. A space station test is then used to test the computer to see if it can be filled and sent back to the county clerk. Then they ship an e-mail with crew-member particular credentials to the astronaut. These certificates allow the crew member to reach the safe belt.

Rubins filled in the ballot, which was downlinked back to the Harris County clerk's office in Houston, Texas, so it could be counted as an official vote. "The clerk has his own password to make sure he can open the ballot alone". Rubins will research "the use of laser-cooled atoms for future quantum sensors" and conduct cardiovascular experiments from the space station, according to NASA. If she can do it from space, Rubins noted that others could also do it from the ground.

NASA Explained The system was first used for former astronaut David Wolf in 1997 while on a long-haul mission to the old Russian space station Mir.

How does NASA vote in space?

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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