Astronauts Will Cast Votes for the 2016 Presidential Election from Space

Friday, 23 September 2016 - 5:46PM
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Friday, 23 September 2016 - 5:46PM
Astronauts Will Cast Votes for the 2016 Presidential Election from Space
If you think voting is a pain now, you should try doing it from space. In the 2016 presidential election, at least one astronaut will be casting an absentee ballot (seriously) from the ISS.

For many years, astronauts who were living on the ISS during election time were unable to vote. But when they're in space, they're still American citizens, so in 1997, a bill was signed into law that allowed astronauts to beam down their vote in the form of an encrypted file. Since then, several astronauts have voted from space, including Leroy Chiao, who voted from the ISS in the 2004 presidential election, and Clayton Anderson, who voted from the ISS in 2007 and whose wife, Susan Anderson, was the NASA leader responsible for pushing through the bill that allowed astronauts to vote from space.
Opening quote
"Part of being an astronaut is trying to serve as a good example, so the more we can do to encourage citizens to go out and vote, the better off we'll be," said Chiao. "If this guy can vote from space, I ought to go down to my local polling place."
Closing quote

Although the procedure is obviously different, the ballot itself is the same. It's a PDF version of the same absentee ballot anyone on Earth would fill out while away from home. According to NPR, the ballot of American astronaut Kate Rubins (pictured above) will list her voting address as "low Earth orbit." 

Rubins was originally scheduled to return home in late October, but now that the crew replacing her has been delayed, she will likely have to cast a ballot from space. Americans Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore will also be on board, and although NASA hasn't officially revealed the voting plans for their astronauts, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, who would be processing the votes, says that at least one of the other astronauts will be casting a vote.

Opening quote
"Even in the small elections, people will participate," Stanart told The Atlantic. "They're making a statement that voting is important to them."
Closing quote
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