By Shianne Vincent
ATLANTA (mocsnews.com) — Kate Rubins, a NASA astronaut of 11 years, plans to cast her electoral vote from the International Space Station. Rubins is a resident of Houston, Texas and voting from space is allowed under Texas law. Rubins said, “it’s critical to participate in our democracy. We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”
Outside of Moscow, Russia, Rubins is preparing alongside two cosmonauts for the October 14th launch aboard Soyus MS-17 spacecraft. She will live at the International Space Station for six months where she will use the space station’s Cold Atom Lab to conduct cardiovascular research.. However, the distance will not keep her from voting this November. Texas law allows resident astronauts to vote from space using an electronic ballot.
So how does this process work? Astronauts typically move to Houston, Texas for their training with NASA. Most may choose to vote as a Texas resident. Some may choose to vote as a resident of their home state in which they must work with their counties to figure out a plan to vote from space. Once approved, the county clerk sends a test ballot to a team at the Johnson Space Center. They will run a test to determine if it is viable and send it back to the county clerk. If it is successful, a secure electronic ballot is uplinked to the crew members that are voting from the ISS. Each crew member is sent specific credentials to access the ballot. Once they fill it out, it is sent back to the county clerk who will then record the data.
The first astronaut to cast his vote from space was Russian. However, in 1997, NASA’s David Wolf was the first American astronaut to cast his ballot from the Russian Mir Space Station.
The publicity of astronauts like Rubins casting their ballots from space may encourage others to take part in mail-in and absentee voting this election if they are unable to travel back home.
Rubins told The Associated Press, “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground too.”
This will be Rubins’ second time casting her ballot from space.