America takes pride in its sovereignty and democracy. US Election 2020 is a spectacle to witness everywhere on earth, and from space as well!
The 2020 US Presidential Elections which are being held amid the coronavirus pandemic saw millions of voters casting ballots from their homes, many more millions stepping out on foot on election day and one American exercise the right to elect the next President from the space. NASA Astronaut, Kathleen Rubins has been observing the tumultuous election season in her home country from space. Rubins cast her vote from the International Space Station. NASA uploaded a picture of Rubins on October 23, 2020, in front of a padded booth marked “ISS Voting Booth,” with the text “From the International Space Station: I voted today.”
Rubins also voted from the International Space Station in 2016 when she was an Expedition 48-49 crew member. NASA also uploaded a video where Rubin can be seen encouraging everyone to vote. “I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said in a video uploaded by NASA. Watch:
“And if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”Onboard the International Space Station, NASA Astronaut Kathleen Rubins urged fellow Americans to vote.
How Astronauts Vote From Space?
As the duration of space missions for astronauts expanded from days to months, it became essential for countries to let them exercise their right to vote from space. Rubins herself, is on a six month term in at the International Space Station, which started on her 42nd birthday on October 14. Back in 1997, the US passed a bill which allows astronauts to vote from space. Since then, many NASA astronauts have exercised their civic right from the Lower Earth Orbit. As NASA works toward sending astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and eventually on to Mars, the agency plans to continue to ensure astronauts who want to vote from space can, no matter where they are in the solar system.
The process starts from Federal Postcard Application, or FPCA like any absentee voting procedure in the USA. The form is filled by the astronaut ahead of their mission to signal their intent to vote in the upcoming elections. This form is similar to the form filled by family members of military personnel who are serving outside the states. Generally, astronauts pick Texas as the state to cast their vote, as that’s where their training takes place. However, NASA also makes special arrangements if they wish to vote from their home counties.
As space missions expanded from days to months, it became essential to let for astronauts vote from space.
Once the FPCA is done, exciting experimentation follows. A test ballot is sent by personnel responsible for voting in the astronaut’s home county to the county clerk. The county clerk sends this test ballot to the team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. They test the ballot on a computer active at the International Space Station. If they are able to fill the ballot, the test is considered successful, a secure electronic ballot is generated by the Clerk’s office of Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas. This is the uplinked by Johnson’s Mission Control Center to the voting crew member. The county clerk then sends an email to the astronaut. This email contains crew member specific credentials which enable the astronaut to access the secure ballot that they can use to vote. After the astronaut has voted, the completed ballot is downlinked. It is then sent to the county clerk’s office, where it was first generated. It is important that the vote is cast before 7 pm local time on the election day. NASA says this is the quickest and most transparent process so that being in space doesn’t become a hindrance.
Watch: How Astronauts Vote From Space
Meanwhile On Earth…
Americans went to the polls on November 3 to vote for their next President. About 35,930,516 cast In-Person Votes. The US Presidential Elections saw more than 100 million (101,214,494) early votes while Mail Ballots Returned count has crossed 65 million. Florida, a crucial state for both the sides has seen nearly 9 million votes cast. The country. North Carolina, another state on the watch has already crossed 95% of the votes cast in 2016. Early votes in states like Washington and Texas crossed the total number of votes cast in 2016 in these states. As the count of mail-in ballots begins, US eagerly awaits the result of a tightly fought contest between former VP Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.
In Charts: How US Voted?
Infographic 1: Historic Turnout In US Presidential Elections 2020You will find more infographics at Statista
Infographic 2: How US Election Turnout Measures Up With Elections In Other DemocraciesYou will find more infographics at Statista