An Out of This World Ballot in This Year’s Presidential Election

November 9, 2016 saw an election that was historic in many ways. As we all know, every vote counts, even those cast outside of the United States. History was made not only in the United States, not only on Earth, but also in outer space. Shane Kimbrough, a NASA astronaut on the International Space Station, made his mark on history this election day. Kimbrough filed his ballot in last week’s presidential election from space.
Kimbrough was not the first astronaut to vote from space. That happened in 1997, the year space voting was implemented by President George W. Bush, when NASA astronaut David Wolf cast his ballot. The voting process is remarkably similar to that which is experienced here on earth, though it does take a bit longer. Astronauts decide which elections they would like to vote in: local, state, federal, or general. Then, they request a standard Registration and Absentee Ballot Request a year ahead of the election. Six months before the election, the astronauts are provided with the form. The form is provided  over the internet by the relevant county clerk. The county clerk then copies the electronic votes onto a paper ballot and submits it on election day. Although Shane Kimbrough did not leave the polls with a coveted “I voted” sticker, he did ensure that his voice was heard on one of the most important nights in our nation’s recent history.