So You Voted Early For Pete Buttigieg (Or Amy Klobuchar). Now What?

March 1, 2020
Pete Buttigieg RallyPete Buttigieg RallyHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to supporters Saturday night, Feb. 22, in Aurora.

Updated, March 3 @ 10:48 a.m.

Update, March 3, 10:48 a.m.: The Colorado Secretary of State's Office said Super Tuesday morning that former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also officially withdrawn from the Colorado presidential primary, meaning that county clerks will not tally votes for him and he will be awarded no delegates.

Update, March 3, 6:37 a.m.: The Colorado Secretary of State's Office said Super Tuesday morning that Sen. Amy Klobuchar has officially withdrawn from the Colorado presidential primary, meaning that county clerks will not tally votes for her and she will be awarded no delegates.

This year's Democratic presidential primary highlights one of the risks of early voting: The person you voted for may not still be in the running come Election Day.

On Sunday, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg suspended his campaign and dropped out of the race. Near midday on Monday, Amy Klobuchar followed.

And that raises the question: what happens to ballots cast for either candidate? After all, Buttigieg had been polling at 10 percent nationally and 11 percent in Colorado the day before he dropped out, according to FiveThirtyEight. Klobuchar had made Colorado a small campaign focus and was polling at near 5 percent in the state.

In short: People who have already turned in ballots for either are out of luck. There are no do-overs in Colorado's election system.

Buttigieg/Klobuchar voters who've filled out a ballot but haven't dropped it off yet aren't out of luck. The state allows voters to cross out their first selection and fill out the bubble for the a replacement. Instructions for that process are at the top of the ballots themselves. Voters can also drop their spoiled ballots in the trash and head to a Vote Center in their county to vote in person on Monday or Tuesday.

Colorado's Secretary of State laid it all out on Twitter Sunday evening:

Die-hard Mayor Pete fans can still cast a ballot for their preferred candidate as a protest vote and it'll probably count. Because Buttigieg hasn't filed paperwork to formally withdraw his candidacy, votes for him will be counted on Tuesday. The same would likely apply for Klobuchar voters.

Tom Steyer also dropped out of the race in the days before Super Tuesday.

This means an election that was already expected to see more last-minute voting than others in recent years just got potentially even more complicated.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that voters are allowed to cross out mistaken selections on their ballots.

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