This astronaut just voted from space

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough just took absentee voting to the next level. Unable to vote in person in the 2016 U.S. elections, he cast his ballot from the International Space Station.

Astronaut wearing spacesuit and smiling (NASA)
Astronaut Shane Kimbrough (NASA)

The out-of-this-world procedure, known as “vote while you float” at NASA, has been around for almost two decades. Texas, home to astronauts at the Johnson Space Center, created the process in 1997. U.S. astronauts have been using it ever since.

Here’s how it works: Mission Control in Houston transmits a secure electronic ballot to astronauts orbiting 400 kilometers above the planet. They email completed ballots to the county clerk back on Earth.

Kimbrough’s crewmate Kate Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space, also cast an absentee ballot from the International Space Station before returning October 30.

David Wolf became the first American to vote in space in 1997 from the Russian space station Mir.

NASA said the only drawback for Kimbrough is that he won’t get an “I voted” sticker that Americans like to place on their lapels or computer bags after casting their ballots.

Graphic reading "Elections 2016" (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)
(State Dept./J. Maruszewski)