US astronauts to vote from space

October 28th, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 28 (Xinhua) Americans from all over the world will vote for the next US president Nov 4 but some ballots will come from the space also.Commander Edward Michael Fincke and flight engineer Gregory Chamitoff are living and working onboard the International Space Station.

Although they are 350 km above the earth, orbiting at 28,000 km per hour, they will still be able to participate in the upcoming election, Nasa said Monday.

A 1997 bill passed by Texas legislators has set up a technical procedure for astronauts - nearly all of whom live in Houston - to vote from space.

A secure electronic ballot, generated by local county clerk’s office, is uplinked by NASA’s Mission Control Center. An e-mail with crew member-specific credentials is sent from the county clerk to the crew member. These credentials allow the crew member to access the secure ballot.

After the astronauts cast their votes the ballot will be downlinked and delivered back to the county clerk’s office by e-mail.

To highlight their unique voting situation and encourage others to exercise their civic duty, Fincke and Chamitoff sent a special message to the earth.

“We are exercising our constitutional right and privilege in casting our ballot this election day,” Fincke said in the video.

In remarks aired on the Nasa TV Monday, Fincke and Chamitoff urged their fellow citizens to take time off to cast their votes. “If we can do it, so can you,” they said.

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