Undoing a Vote

There is a very brief window where you can undo a vote which allows you to take back a vote you accidently cast. After a brief time, it is "locked in" until the post is edited.

The Bug:

I see an old vote where the answer has been edited. I accidently click which undoes the vote. Oops. I can't immediately click again to re-do the vote. The system says the vote is too old.

  • meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=voting+window
    – random
    Commented Sep 12, 2009 at 1:33
  • 36
    How can this be "by design"? It's clearly broken.
    – Ether
    Commented Nov 4, 2009 at 18:00
  • 29
    +1. This may be by design, but it's a bad design & I'd like to see it changed.
    – Perpetual Motion Goat
    Commented Nov 5, 2009 at 21:18
  • 3
    I hit a very similar scenario that I think needs to be handled better. My scenario was 1) I initially vote down an answer 2) I quickly removed the downvote because I wanted to give more consideration before downvoting 3) after a longer delay, I decide I really do want to downvote it, but I now can't because "vote it too old"! Very annoying!
    – Dan J
    Commented Dec 9, 2009 at 22:09
  • The only real work around is to get enough rep to edit the question so you can change the vote, or have someone do it for you. (I don't have enough rep, but someone was nice enough to do a trivial change for me.)
    – Vaccano
    Commented Dec 28, 2009 at 23:14

6 Answers 6


From the cast of things, the voting window is drastically clap shut and tight like when the body is in need of finding a toilet post haste.

If you manage to come back to the post after it's been edited, and release that pent up pants before the knees initial reason, apparently you're allowed a one time touch again after having your particular window reset after the edit.

But if you slip, that's it, no more voting on the post for you. Until it's edited once more.

  • 11
    Confusing implementation. Jeff commented, "Undo is for 'whoops clicked the wrong thing'" which certainly covers my use case. He said that the clock starts ticking on the first vote then it's locked until the target post is edited. I would assume that, when a vote is edited, all these timers should be removed so logic of the "voting window" is simply reset. Commented Sep 12, 2009 at 1:50
  • Looks like the refreshed edit window for votes cuts down to half a second.
    – random
    Commented Sep 12, 2009 at 1:59
  • 16
    -1 for confusing analogy.
    – JYelton
    Commented Apr 9, 2010 at 15:38
  • The analogies can only get worse. @jye
    – random
    Commented Apr 9, 2010 at 16:04

I just did the exact same thing as listed under The Bug:. I accidentally clicked on an upvote I'd made, and it went away. Then I tried reclicking, and was told the vote was too old. Edit: I noticed later that it had been edited. Presumably, I'd been able to misclick because it was edited, and then denied the chance to reclick.

The system is broken. We have a window after which votes are frozen, that's OK. However, after that window I should either be unable to change my vote, or I should be able to immediately click to undo my change. Basically, I should always be able to fix a misclick.


If this is by design, it is unfortunate. It means that the undo feature is not really a true undo, it leaves some invisible state still mutated.

My scenario went like this:

  1. I saw an answer that I thought was good.
  2. I clicked the upvote.
  3. Thinking about it over the next few seconds, I found a possible flaw in the completeness of the answer.
  4. I clicked the upvote again to undo the vote.
  5. I did some research to satisfy myself that the answer was complete. I found that it was.
  6. I clicked the upvote once more, but it was denied with the “Vote too old to be changed, unless the answer is edited” message.

At this point, the system acts like I have already cast a vote but I have actually caused no net impact to the vote tally of the answer.

If was a true undo, the undo would have reset any “undo window” timer and any subsequent, new vote should have started its own undo window timer.

  • That way leads to tactical voting. Since default answer view is sorted by votes, you could downvote all other answers in the question and then remove the downvotes after you've picked up a vote or two.
    – random
    Commented Nov 25, 2009 at 5:45
  • 1
    Seems like that would only work for questions that are getting a ton of views and where all the other answers only have at most one or two more votes than your answer. The scammer risks losing rep if they fail to undo their downvotes before their undo windows close. Is there a reasonable case for not allowing full undo for upvotes? Commented Nov 25, 2009 at 6:21
  • I just ran into this same case. I saw a decent answer, clicked upvote, then unchecked upvote after a few seconds thinking I'd wait until I had a chance to fully try the implementation. After testing I then tried upvote the now-verified answer and was prevented from doing so. Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 18:32
  • 3
    #3 is why we should always be allowed to change our votes.
    – endolith
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 1:06
  • 1
    @random: Any voting system is open to tactical voting, this change has no net impact on this system's susceptibility. Commented Jul 16, 2011 at 14:03

Yeah after undoing my original mistaken vote (within about 5 seconds) I expect to be able recast my vote.

Please fix this.


I ran into this problem today. I agree that it's extremely frustrating and that it shouldn't be "by design", but I found a workaround, at least for the ones of us with enough rep:

Edit the answer yourself, and add a   or a # at the end of a linked URL, then recast the vote :)

  • 1
    That is the intended workaround. You can just add whitespace though. A carriage return at the end does the same thing.
    – random
    Commented Jan 21, 2010 at 0:50
  • 3
    @random I believe there are users with less than 2k rep.
    – mafu
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 8:57

Based on all the "vote too old" feedback, I modified the text to make the timed vote locking a bit more clear:

You last voted on this question

Mar 28 at 7:55

Your vote is now locked in

unless this question is edited

Where "question" and "answer" are substitutions.

Also note that the window for undo was increased to 5 minutes a while back.

  • 10
    Why are votes locked in the first place? It seems like this policy does much more harm than good.
    – endolith
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 1:07

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