It would be nearly impossible for anyone to not know this was an election year at this point. Between the presidential debates and all the political ads running on TV, the election is difficult to escape. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is encouraging people to vote by pointing out that she voted from space. A picture was posted to the NASA Astronaut’s Twitter feed, which can be seen below, with Rubens pointing to a small closet with a handmade sign that read “ISS voting booth.”
NASA points out this is the second time Rubins has voted from space. She was aboard the ISS in 2016 and cast her vote from space then. Rubins also issued a video where she said that she believes it’s important for everyone to vote. She pointed out that if she can vote from space, folks can do it from the ground too. Rubens will be aboard the ISS for six months, with her mission kicking off on October 14.
October 16 was also Rubins’ birthday; she turned 42. Most astronauts vote as Texas residents because they move to Houston for training. However, NASA does make special arrangements for astronauts who want to vote as residents of their home state. The voting process from the ISS is quite different from voting on the ground.
Ballots from the county where the astronaut is registered are tested on an ISS training computer. A real ballot is generated and uplinked to the ISS with specific credentials for the crewmember to make it secure. When the ballot is complete, it’s electronically delivered back to earth to be recorded officially.
Astronauts have been able to vote for space since 1997 after a bill was passed to allow legal voting from space in Texas. NASA intends to ensure that astronauts can vote from space wherever they may be, including the moon, the ISS, or Mars.