Help! My Candidate Dropped Out: All Your Super Tuesday Voting Questions, Answered

Angela Marie Volpe casts her ballot after a yoga class at the YMCA in Burbank, California, on March 2, 2020, during early voting for the California presidential primary election ahead of Super Tuesday. (Robyn Beck/AFP)

With the landscape of Democratic primary candidates quickly changing (Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have all dropped out in recent days), California voters have a lot of questions.

Election officials mailed out 15 million California ballots last month — and more than 3 million voters have already turned their ballots in. If you’re one of those voters — or if you haven’t yet gone to the polls, you may have some questions.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and our answers:

Can I vote again if I already submitted my ballot and the person I voted for has since dropped out?

No. Once you’ve voted, you cannot vote again. Under state law, it's a crime to vote twice, and if you do, both ballots will be disqualified.

Can I change my vote if I filled out my ballot but haven’t turned it in yet?

Yes. To do so, you must go to a polling place, election center or county election office, tell an official there what happened, turn in your old ballot to be destroyed and request a new one.

Can I register to vote on Election Day?

It's important to note, however, that your ballot will take a few days, or maybe even weeks, to be counted if you register on Election Day, because voting officials must verify your eligibility before they can count it.

If I'm not a registered Democrat, can I vote in Tuesday's primary?

Yes — but at this late time, you must request a Democratic primary ballot at a polling location, county election office or vote center. If you were mailed a different ballot, bring it with you so you can exchange it for one with the Democratic presidential candidates.

What happens to the votes (and delegates) for the candidates who already dropped out?

If you already voted for Steyer, Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Andrew Yang — all candidates on the ballot who have since dropped out — they will still get your vote in California's final tally, and will also still receive any delegates they might end up qualifying for. However, with their campaigns suspended, none of that really matters.

Now that four candidates on the ballot have dropped out, does that change the delegate math?

Nope. All candidates still need to clear 15% of the vote — in their districts and statewide — to qualify for any delegates. That threshold is simply based on the total voter turnout in any given congressional district or statewide, regardless of how many candidates are left standing.

If I haven’t mailed in my vote-by-mail ballot yet, what should I do?

You can drop it off at any voting center, polling location or county elections office. Or, you can mail it — as long as it’s postmarked by Tuesday, March 3 and arrives by Friday, it will still be counted.

How can I make sure my vote was counted?

Check with your county election office. Here’s a handy list to help with that.


What other states are voting on Super Tuesday?

A whole bunch of them: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia are all voting, as well as American Samoa.

How many delegates are up for grabs, both in California and all Super Tuesday states combined?

Yes. Under a new state law you can register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day — but you must go to a county election office, polling place or vote center. Find a nearby polling place or vote center here.

California will dole out 415 delegates. In the 14 states and one territory holding primary contests on Super Tuesday, there are a total of 1,344 delegates up for grabs — or about a third of all "pledged" delegates in the entire Democratic primary (3,979). To put that in context, only 155 delegates have been awarded so far from the first four states.

How many delegates are needed to secure the nomination?

To secure the Democratic nomination, a candidate needs 1,991 delegates, or a majority of the total delegates awarded in the primaries and caucuses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. (Superdelegates won’t come into play unless no candidate gets that majority on the first ballot.)

When will we have California’s election results? When will we know exactly how many delegates each candidate is getting from California?

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We should have a pretty good idea by late Tuesday/early Wednesday who the top vote-getters are in California — but it could take days or weeks to sort out exactly how many delegates each candidate receives. That's because all the votes must be counted before delegates can be apportioned. (Read more about the delegate math here.)

April 3 is the deadline in California for counties to certify their results, and April 10 is when the statewide results will be certified. And, California isn’t the only Western state that could take awhile to come out with final results.

What happens if no one has the minimum number of delegates going into the Democratic National Convention?

Then it becomes a contested convention. Things get really complicated and superdelegates come into play. But let’s cross that bridge if and when we come to it.