Can You Actually Change Your Vote?

The short answer: it’s complicated.

On Tuesday, the president tweeted out some “information” that suggested that it would be possible for one to change their vote in most states. He stated that there was a spike in searches for “Can I change my vote?” following the second presidential debate, also saying that voters wanted to change their vote to him.


Is this information correct? Yes and no, but mostly no.

Was there a spike in searches for “Can I change my vote?” Not for the exact phrase. According to Google Trends, that particular phrase did not see a surge till after the president’s tweet, rendering his argument null and void. 

Image courtesy: Google Trends

However, there was a rise in searches for the phrase “change your vote” following the debate. Even so, there’s nothing in any of the searches to suggest that voters wanted to change their vote in favor of Trump.

Image courtesy: Google Trends

Now the big question: can you change your vote? Yes, but only in some states, not most of them as the president would have you believe. This isn’t the first time the president made such a claim, also stating that voters could change their votes during his 2016 campaign. However, he only mentioned a few (accurate) states at the time.

There are some complicated procedures involved, but some states do allow you to change your vote. Most of them involve some form of absentee or mail-in ballots. In some, the process of “spoiling” your ballot is involved, which basically means asking election officials to invalidate your ballot so you can get a new one.

According to Michigan state law, “Voters can vote absentee and then “spoil” their ballot to re-vote. Spoil ballot requests by voters who have already voted may request a new ballot by mail until 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day or can request a new ballot in-person until 10 a.m. on the Monday prior to the election.” Similar rules exist in Wisconsin, the difference being that in the latter, you can also spoil an absentee ballot by voting in-person on Election Day. Minnesota also has similar guidelines, but the deadline to cancel the absentee ballot is two weeks before Election Day, which has already passed.

The principle for Connecticut varies town by town, but in some places, you can request a new ballot and cancel the original. In New Hampshire, you have two ways to do so: request a new ballot and send it in by the required time; or vote in person during the first hour, before absentee ballots start getting counted. 

In Pennsylvania, you can vote in person on Election Day only if you haven’t returned the mail-in/absentee ballot. According to the New York state elections board website, “If the voter comes to the poll site, on Election Day or during early voting and votes in person, the absentee ballot is set aside and not counted.”

Similar to Pennsylvania, in Arkansas and Mississippi, you can actually request and spoil up to three ballots, but that’s before you actually send your first ballot in. Spoiling a ballot can also occur, to an extent, in Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and New Mexico, but not after the ballot has been cast.

Get out the vote!

All facts as per respective state law.

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