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US astronauts to vote from space

Commander Mike Fincke (right) and Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff send a special message from the ISS urging all Americans to vote. Credit: NASA TV

WASHINGTON (BNS): Casting a vote is every citizen’s fundamental right to be exercised dutifully. So also for two NASA astronauts, Commander Edward Michael Fincke and Flight Engineer and Science Officer Greg Chamitoff, who are living and working onboard the International Space Station.

A 1997 Bill passed by Texas legislators sets up a technical procedure for astronauts, nearly all of whom live in Houston, to vote from space.

This will be the first time the ballots will be travelling such a long distance.

A secure electronic ballot, generated by the Harris and Brazoria County Clerk's office, is uplinked by NASA's Johnson Space Center Mission Control Center. An e-mail with crew member-specific credentials is sent from the County Clerk to crew members. These credentials allow the crew members to access the secure ballot.

The astronauts will cast their votes and a secure completed ballot is downlinked and delivered back to the County Clerk’s Office by e-mail to be officially recorded.

A special message sent by the astronauts to the citizens to exercise their civic duty is being aired on NASA TV starting Monday.

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