Not Only Do Astronauts Vote From Space But One Of Them Did It From The Russian 'Mir'
For astronauts going about their everyday spacey business hundreds of miles above the Earth, taking a day off and making a trip back home to cast their votes on the election day is not really a choice. So, for a long time in the history of America's space program, it was logistically impossible for astronauts to partake in this quintessential democratic process.
However, being super-serious about their democratic values like any functional democracy they ideally should be, the U.S. establishment these days ensures that all necessary steps are taken so our heroes up there don't feel much left out on the big day. And that is how, despite currently being stationed at 250 miles above the Earth, astronaut Shane Kimbrough was able to cast his vote yesterday. It was around the same time as his fellow Americans back home.
Kimbrough is currently the sole American on the International Space Station. On Tuesday, he cast his ballot via a special absentee ballot process established in the 1990s to allow NASA astronauts to "vote while they float."
However, Kimbrough is not the first American in history to vote from space. That title goes to astronaut David Wolf who was able to participate in the voting process way back in 1997, following a bill passed by Texas legislatures the same year that legitimized space-voting. Not only that, Wolf did it while he was stationed at the Russian Mir station.
"It's something that, you know, you might or might not expect it to mean a great deal. But when you're so removed from your planet, small things do have a large impact," said astronaut David Wolf in a statement, as NPR reported in 2008.
According to the Washington Post, the procedure is relatively simple. The astronaut first receives a password-protected document in his e-mail. He needs to fill it out and send it back to the county clerk who then copies the choices onto a standard ballot. This essentially means that nobody else other than the astronaut and the clerk would know which candidate the vote went to.