Yes, astronauts can vote from space

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Nov. 5, 2012 at 5:14 PM  |  Updated Nov. 5, 2012 at 7:47 PM   |   Comments

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Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Put this one down as one of those things you never knew you wanted to know: Yes, astronauts can vote from space.

According to NASA spokesman Jay Bolden, who spoke with Space.com, the Americans living aboard the International Space Station are able to cast their ballots in Tuesday's election with a little help from the people in Mission Control.

"They send [their digital ballot] back to Mission Control," Bolden said. It's a secure ballot that is then sent directly to the voting authorities."

American commander Sunita Williams and flight engineer Kevin Ford are two of the six people currently speeding around the Earth at more than 17,000 miles per minute. As it happens, both were able to vote absentee from a significantly more conventional location--Russia--before they launched for space.

The system was put in place for orbital voting in 1997, thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislators. Nearly all NASA's astronauts live near Houston, Texas, where the Johnson Space Center (and Mission Control) is located.

The first person to vote from pace was David Wolf, participating in a 1997 local election. Leroy Chiao became the first American to vote in a presidential election from space in 2004.

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2012: The year in space
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"I voted!" Astronaut Sunita Williams during a space walk off the International Space Station. (UPI Photo/NASA).Activity lead Bobak Ferdowsi, who cuts his hair differently for each mission, works inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on August 5, 2012. The Curiosity robot is equipped with a nuclear-powered lab capable of vaporizing rocks and ingesting soil, measuring habitability, and potentially paving the way for human exploration, and was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. UPI/Brian van der Brug/pool
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