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NASA astronaut Kate Rubins plans to cast her vote for the upcoming 2020 presidential election from space – more than 200 miles above Earth.
Speaking with the Associated Press, Rubins, 41, discussed the importance of voting and implored others that if she can do it, then they can as well. "I think it's really important for everybody to vote," she said.
"If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too," Rubins said.
"There's been legislation passed a number of years ago to allow astronauts to vote in space," Rubins said. "I think a lot of astronauts do this, they feel that it is very important. It's critical to participate in our democracy."
"We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space," she continued, explaining that astronauts fill out a form before they vote via absentee ballot.
According to the AP, Rubins is currently just outside of Moscow in Star City, Russia, where she is preparing for a mid-October launch and a six-month stay at the International Space Station with two cosmonauts.
Most U.S. astronauts live in Houston, where Texas law allows them to vote from space using a secure electronic ballot. Mission Control then forwards the ballot to the space station and relays the completed ballot back to the county clerk.
According to a post from NASA's official Tumblr account, astronaut David Wolf was the first American to vote from space in 1997, the same year the Texas law was passed.
Voting from space was never quite a concern before then, as NASA astronauts typically spent no longer than two weeks on shuttle missions, according to NPR. But now, there are times where Americans are sometimes on missions for months at a time.
For astronauts, the voting process starts a year before launch, when they are able to select which elections — local, state or federal — they wish to participate in while in space.