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Astronauts Can and Do Vote
November 4, 2012

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Final results for this year's presidential election will include votes by two astronauts now serving aboard the International Space Station. Sunita Williams and Kevin Ford, who went into space in July and October, respectively, voted before they left, while stationed in Russia, awaiting launch.

However, they could have voted from space, as did Leroy Chiao did in 2004, commanding the Space Station's Expedition 10 million. Chiao received a digital version of a presidential ballot, which he filled out and send back digitally to Mission Control and the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Authorities there send the ballot on to local vote-counters. Chiao's vote was counted along with those of other Texas residents. (Most astronauts are Texas residents, living in or around Houston.)

Williams and Ford are among the six-person crew now serving in Expedition 33. Williams is a commander, and Ford is a flight engineer. Their missions blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Chiao wasn't the first astronaut to vote in space. That honor went to David Wolf, who voted in a local election in 1997. He was aboard the Russian Mir space station at the time.

The out-of-this-world voting is possible thanks to a 1997 bill passed by the Texas state legislature.

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