November 24, 2020
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins votes from ISS: 'If we can do it from space...'

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins votes from ISS: ‘If we can do it from space…’


This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

However you go about casting your vote, you have to admire this NASA astronaut who managed to cast her vote from space. Kate Rubins, who’s currently on duty aboard the International Space Station, posted a photo of herself in front of a padded booth marked “ISS Voting Booth,” with the text “From the International Space Station: I voted today.”

NASA notes this isn’t Rubins’ first time voting from space. She did so in 2016, when she was also on the ISS. 

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said in a video uploaded by NASA. “And if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.” Rubins’ six-month ISS mission began Oct. 14, which was also her 42nd birthday.

Most astronauts choose to vote as Texas residents because they move to Houston for training, NASA said, though, that those who wish to vote as residents of their home state can make special arrangements. 

Ballots from the county where the astronaut is registered are tested on a space station training computer, then the real ballot is generated and uplinked to the ISS with crew-member-specific credentials to keep it secure. The completed ballot is electronically delivered back to Earth to be officially recorded.

“Voting in space has been possible since 1997 when a bill passed to legally allow voting from space in Texas,” NASA said in a statement. “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.”

NASA had expected the US astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the ISS to join Rubins in voting from space, but their mission has been delayed until early- to mid-November, so they can now vote from Earth.


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