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Most states won’t allow you to change your vote, no matter what Trump says

In-person early voting in Milwaukee
Reuters/Bing Guan
In most states, a vote cast cannot be changed.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated

One week ahead of the US election, the campaigns continue—including president Donald Trump’s voter disinformation campaign.

After suggesting people vote twice (which is illegal) and encouraging supporters to enter the polling stations to check on other voters (also illegal) Trump is now encouraging early voters who have already cast their ballot to change their preference (to him, presumably).

According to the president, there was a spike in search for “can I change my vote” right after the debate on Oct. 23, although google trends shows the search went up from before the debate. Despite what he is saying, too, there is no evidence the searches were made in connection with voting for him.

But here’s the main issue with his tweet: The president is wrong. Most states will not allow you to change your vote after it’s been cast. There are, however, a handful of states that give that options. Here is how it works.

The states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alaska, and some counties in Connecticut, explicitly allow voters to change their absentee ballot choice after the vote has been cast.

In New York, while there isn’t a specific provision to correct your vote, voters who have returned their absentee ballot can still vote in person on Election Day, and only the in-person vote will be counted.

Everywhere else, once a vote is cast, it counts, although there might be some workarounds for absentee voters who have sent in their mail-in ballot and have had a change of heart.

What voters can do in many states is request a new absentee ballot, provided the ballot has not yet been received and registered. In that case, the ballot in transit will be invalidated, and the replacement ballot will become the official one. To request a new ballot, voters should contact their county’s board of election.

But like most details when it comes to the US election, the actual way to track the absentee ballot and request a new one to varies between counties, which ultimately have the last word on how whether regretful absentee voters might have a chance to correct their choice.

However, this close to the elections, voters might not have enough time to return the new ballot, and will end up losing their chance to vote. The exception are voters who receive the ballot via mail and their state allows them to change their mind and vote in person on Election Day. In most cases, voters who change their mind will be required to fill an affidavit for a provisional ballot.

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