Two Americans Cast Their Votes From Space Last Week

These astronauts sent the most impressive absentee ballots of the election.
International Space Station crew member Shane Kimbrough, pictured, voted mid-orbit last week.
International Space Station crew member Shane Kimbrough, pictured, voted mid-orbit last week.

Voter turnout reached new heights last week — not in numbers, but in altitude. The only American currently in space has cast his vote, NASA announced Monday.

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough officially filed his electronic absentee ballot from the International Space Station days ago, after Kate Rubins submitted her ballot before returning to Earth last week. Thanks to a 1997 Texas law, the two Americans ― registered as residents of Houston, where the Johnson Space Center is located ― can vote while in orbit.

The astronauts listed their addresses as “low-orbit Earth,” which is where their spacecraft circles. NASA actively encourages its members in space to participate in elections with the motto “Vote While You Float.”

Logistically, voting is a long process for people who spend years away from Earth. The astronauts must decide which elections they’ll vote in a year ahead of time, and receive the electronic ballots six months prior to the election. Rubins planned ahead and took her ballot with her to space in July.

“There are some fantastic folks on the ground that got me an absentee ballot before I launched,” Rubins said in an interview. “It’s incredibly important for us to vote in all of the elections.”

Although the astronauts couldn’t get the immersive experience of voting in the election, at least they avoided the long lines at the polls. 

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