Vote While You Float: A NASA Astronaut’s Voting Story Before Election Day

By  //  November 7, 2016

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ABOVE VIDEO: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the sole American currently off the planet, has filed his absentee ballot from the International Space Station. Kimbrough launched into space on October 19th, and cast his vote sometime over the past few days, NASA confirmed to the AP.

(NASA) – With the excitement of getting to the polls on Election Day many people will have a hard time keeping their feet on the ground, but astronauts who vote literally have to strap themselves down so they don’t float away.

Astronauts orbit the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour, but thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislatures in 1997 that put in place technical voting procedure for astronauts – nearly all of whom live in Texas – they also have the ability to vote from space!

For astronauts, the voting process starts a year before launch, when astronauts are able to select which elections (local/state/federal) that they want to participate in while in space.

Then, six months before the election, astronauts are provided with a standard form: the “Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request – Federal Post Card Application.”

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‘Space voting’ was first used the same year it was implemented in 1997. NASA astronaut David Wolf became the first American to vote in space while on the Russian Mir Space Station.

Current space station resident astronaut Shane Kimbrough is the most recent astronaut to take advantage of the opportunity.

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While astronauts don’t have to wait in line for his ballot like the rest of us, there is one disadvantage to voting in space: they miss out on the highly coveted “I Voted” sticker.

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STS-86 crewmember David Wolf, the first American to vote in space, relaxes in the Spacehab module while Space Shuttle Atlantis was docked to Mir (10/16/1997)


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