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No, you can’t change your vote once you’ve mailed it in

FILE: In Salt Lake County, instructions on the ballot tell voters to use blue or black ink to select their choices. Photo: Becky Bruce, KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that most states permit you to change your vote. But the reality is, once you’ve cast your ballot either by mail or in person, you can’t change it.  

 

“You know, did you hear the number one thing on Google was: ‘How do I change my vote?’ Did you know that? How do I change my vote? Something like hashtag — Did you hear that? Hashtag: ‘How do I change my vote?’ They watched the debate. I wanted — remember I wanted that debate to move way up, you know, because a lot of people voted by this crazy ballot deal. Wait until you see the mess that thing is going to be in,” Mr. Trump said while campaigning Monday in Pennsylvania.

There are a few states where it is possible to change your vote with some specific caveats in place. 

Pennsylvania, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, New Hampshire, Indiana and New Mexico allow voters to “spoil” their ballots (to varying degrees) only if their ballot has not already been processed, according to ABC News. In Michigan and Wisconsin, voters can request to spoil their mail-in ballots by a certain deadline and receive a new ballot, according to Forbes.

Can I change my vote in Utah?

Justin Lee, Utah director of elections, joins Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to break down how Utah’s votes are counted and to answer the question: Can I change my vote?

Sorry, no, you can’t change your vote in Utah, Mr. Lee said.

In Utah, mail-in ballots are processed as soon as they are returned, he added. But who is winning which race is not tabulated until Election Day, he said.

Once the envelope is separated from the ballot, there is “absolutely no way” to connect it back to the voter, Mr. Lee said. “Your vote is secret, and that’s an important right we want to maintain.”

“The law says you can’t request a ballot once you have cast your ballot,” Mr. Lee, adding that the county clerk can “spoil” or cancel a mail-in ballot and give the person a new one or instruct the voter to go to the polls to vote in person.

He said because the law doesn’t explicitly allow for revoting, he doesn’t want to see election officials overwhelmed with voters who wish to recast their ballots.

Mr. Lee said almost 700,000 ballots have already been received from Utah voters as of Wednesday (more than 50% of ballots processed in the 2016 presidential election, he noted).

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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Why is KSL NewsRadio covering this?

This story is part of a series explaining the process behind elections in the United States and Utah. We wanted to answer commonly asked questions about the process.

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It came from you! Listeners like you text, email or message us regularly with questions just like this one that sometimes become stories.

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Just like you, when we need to answer tough questions, we perform searches -- sometimes using the library, sometimes online. We also consult with experts in the appropriate field to answer our questions. In this case, the director of elections for the state joined us on the air.

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