How Do Astronauts Cast Their Votes From Space?
In 1997 the legislature of the State of Texas passed a bill specifically intended to ensure the many astronauts that call Texas home would be able to vote wherever they might be–even if that wherever was 220 miles above the surface of the Earth, whizzing over Texas in a space station.
That very year astronaut David Wolf, aboard the Mir space station, cast his vote by encrypted email. His ballot was prepared by his county clerk’s office, sent to Mission Control, beamed to the space station, and then returned via the same route. Although Wolf was the first person to vote from space, it was a local election. It wasn’t until 2004 that the flight schedules aligned with a national election. In October of 2004, aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Leroy Chiao cast his vote via encrypted email and became the first American to vote for the President from space.