The Way That NASA Astronauts Vote Is Literally Out Of This World

Photo: Courtesy of NASA.
Contrary to last week's online hoaxes, you can't vote via text. You have to go to your polling place in person or, if you live abroad or outside of your home state, mail in your absentee ballot. But if you're a NASA astronaut on a mission in space, the process is a little different: You can only vote via email. According to The Atlantic, NASA astronaut Susan Anderson spearheaded attempts to create a bill that would allow astronauts to vote from space in the '90s. In 1997, said bill was finally passed by Texas legislators and signed into effect by the state's governor at the time, George W. Bush. Voting requires far more advance preparation for those in space than the rest of us. NASA says that astronauts are required to decide which elections they want to vote in a full year before their launch. Then, they register for a standard absentee ballot. Of course, snail-mailing a ballot from Jupiter isn't an option. Instead, the astronaut receives a secure email from Harris or Galveston County (both are located in Texas, where NASA's Johnson Space Center is based) with a PDF of the ballot. They mark their choices and send a completed ballot back to a county clerk. That person fills out the physical ballot for the astronaut and the vote is officially cast. So, if you ever feel like getting to your local polling place and waiting in lines before work is a challenge, just know this: It's a far more complicated process from space.

More from Tech

R29 Original Series