WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

NASA astronaut votes from space

Posted October 25, 2020 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2020 9:44 a.m. EDT

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins cast her vote early from the International Space Station (ISS) last week. Rubins also cast her 2016 vote from the ISS.

Astronauts have been about to vote from 250 miles up and 17,500 miles per hour since then Texas Governor George W. Bush signed a bill enabling it into law. Texas Administrative Code section 81.35.

How it works

Astronauts who will be off planet during early voting and election day begin the process by filling out the same Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) members of the military and their families serving outside the United States.

The team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston works with the county clerk who manages elections in the astronaut’s home county, generally Harris County where most astronauts live. A secure electronic ballot generated by that clerk is up linked by Johnson’s Mission Control Center to the voting crew member. An e-mail with crew member-specific credentials is sent from the County Clerk to the astronaut.

The astronaut completes their ballot which is down linked to mission control which is then delivered via email to the clerk. The clerk has the only password that can open the encrypted ballot.

This wasn't the first time Rubins has voted from space. She cast her vote in the 2016 election from the ISS.

A little closer to home

Wait times in Durham County across 14 early voting sites are being shared online this year. Wake County offers similar information.

An unofficial twitter account @wakevotewait alerts voters of shorter lines at one of the 20 early voting sites across Wake County.

Early voting continues through Saturday October 31. Most locations across the area are open 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m Monday through Friday and until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday October 31, the last day of Early Voting

WRAL's "Plan Your Vote" resource guide has everything you need to find early voting sites and their hours in your county or your election day polling place.

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