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June 12, 2021
PHOTO CREDITS: NASA
According to Space.com, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has cast her absentee ballot from the International Space Station (ISS) to vote in the US election. Rubins arrived for her second spaceflight on October fourteenth and will remain in orbit for over six months, meaning she will miss the November third election.
NASA astronauts have been voting since 1997, since most astronauts live in Texas near the Johnson Space Center, the state has an extreme absentee ballot procedure in place for anyone who happens not to be on Earth. It is requested like any other absentee ballot but with the address “low Earth orbit”; NASA delivers a digital ballot to the astronaut and then to the states’ election authorities. In addition to providing absentee ballots, Texas also allows early voting from October thirteenth to the thirtieth, which helps in the process of voting from space.
Since the “Vote While You Float” legislation was passed in 1997, NASA astronauts have not been the only ones voting in elections. In June, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin also voted from orbit. Using an online ballot, Ivanishin voted on Vladimir Putin’s proposed changes to the constitution, aimed at keeping him in power until 2036. Ivan Vagner, another cosmonaut in orbit, cast his vote on the matter days later through a proxy, which is a voter selected to represent him back on Earth. The European Space Agency’s Thomas Pesquet also voted for the next leader of France in 2017 using a proxy. The other ISS partners, Japan and Canada, have not yet set up a system to vote in elections, but they also don’t have a continuous presence on board like Russia and the United States currently do.
ARTICLE: JOSEPH MODICA
SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH