Millions of Americans have visited the polls today in a historic election for the next US president, but many have faced difficulties in casting their votes. At some polling stations voters faced exceedingly long lines, especially before work hours, and at others, poll goers were seemingly harassed in an effort to prevent them from casting their vote. But there’s one place where voting was surprisingly hassle-free: the International Space Station (ISS).
American astronaut Shane Kimbrough was able to vote from space at some point over the last few days, according to The Washington Post, after NASA beamed him up a digital copy of a Texas absentee ballot that was then sent directly to election officials in Houston. His address, along with any other astronaut voting from space, was listed as “low-earth orbit.” In 1997, lawmakers in Texas approved a method to allow astronauts to vote from space, roughly three years before the first humans started to inhabit the ISS. The first American to vote from space, David Wolf, actually voted from the Russian Mir space station in 1997, according to NASA.
Kimbrough would’ve selected which elections they wanted to vote in (state, local, or federal) a year ago, and filled out an absentee ballot application about six months later, and according to the Post, cast his ballot over the last few days, orbiting above our pale blue dot. Then he could’ve gone back to floating around in space, conducting experiments, or doing whatever else it is that astronauts do all day in near-zero gravity.
Many earth-bound voters, however, didn’t have it so easy. For example, Quartz’s own Molly Rubin shot this video of her polling station in Brooklyn, New York, this morning. She said that it took her roughly two hours to get through the line to vote:
Others have had to vote in bizarre conditions:
And others still have had to deal with voter intimidation tactics:
If only everyone had the freedom to vote from the infinite vacuum of space.