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The way American astronauts voted while in space

The outbreak of coronavirus has alternated the way things are done, with the latest change being the way elections are conducted in the United States. The Americans were able to vote via email but in specific states where the coronavirus cases were highest. Additionally, Kate Rubins, an American astronaut, was able to cast her ballot while at the International Space Station.

She reiterated the voting process she went through at the International Space Station to NASA’s Q&A at the 20th-anniversary conference. She explained in a video that voting is equivalent to casting her vote from home. Rubins signed up for the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) form, which authenticates her voting in space. Americans usually use this form in other countries due to the activities or missions they are pursuing in those countries, like military operations. The voters in space received the same treatment as those voting from overseas.

The US law stipulates that the voters in space must vote as though they are Texas residents because they usually receive their Houston training before they embark on their missions. This regulation came into action in 1997, allowing the astronauts to vote under the address low-Earth orbit with their votes being transmitted electronically to Texas. NASA usually validates the ballot boxes to ensure the astronauts can vote without any glitches. The votes are then transmitted to the county clerk for inclusion in the voter tally. The computers at the Johnson Space Center transfer the details in a coded way to the clerk.

The clerk usually issues a test sample of the ballot to authenticate the security encryptions before the real ballot paper in an electronic form is embedded as an email and sent to the astronaut. Every astronaut has a password that ensures that the vote is not rigged or interfered with by the transmitters or technicians facilitating the process. Additionally, the rules on Earth apply to the voters at the International Space Station. For instance, the voter must send their vote before 7 p.m; to remain relevant; otherwise, it would be deemed invaluable. Rubin was the first astronaut to create her voting booth from where she cast her ballot and electronically transferred it to Earth.

She explained that she chose the area where they have isolated and set aside for sleep to cast a vote saying that it was the ideal place. This event becomes Rubin’s second voting from space. In conclusion, NASA has dedicated its facilities to serve this right for the American astronauts. This move proves that astronauts have no excuse to claim their vote did not count. 

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