How to vote in space

NASA commander Sunita Williams in the Cupola of the International Space Station.

In some ways, astronauts have it easy when it comes to voting. They don’t have to worry about finding their local polling place, they don’t have to stand in line, and they don’t have to deal with connecting two halves of an arrow (Chicago ballots tend to cause some anxiety).

In 1997, Texas legislators passed a bill allowing astronauts to vote from space. That year, David Wolf voted in a local election not only from space, but from the Russian-owned space station Mir. It would be difficult to conceive of a more extreme absentee ballot than that.

But how astronauts vote on the International Space Station is relatively simple. They fill out their ballot digitally, then send it back to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center. From there, Mission Control sees that the ballot is sent directly to voting authorities.

The  two Americans currently on the ISS won’t be voting this way today. Commander Sunita Williams and flight engineer Kevin Ford early voted before they left Earth for the ISS’s Expedition 33.

Not to be preachy, but if a commander of the International Space Station can find time to vote, you can too.



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