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Is this a new feature? I have not run into this in the past, though I admit that I may not have ever needed to undo an upvote until now:

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Does this mean that if we accidentally upvote something or change our minds about an upvote/downvote, we cannot ever undo it? Or does this message go away eventually? What is the time-frame within which one can undo upvotes/downvotes if a window exists?

This isn't important enough that I would go back to see if the answer has changed, at which point I clearly would be able to retract my upvote (and I assume the same goes for a downvote), but I'm curious about this site feature which I have never seen before...

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You can change your vote within 5 minutes from the moment you vote. If the post has been edited after you voted it, you change your vote even if more than 5 minutes are passed. Once you do it, you still have the five-minute grace period to change it again.

This applies to cast votes. If you vote a post, and remove your vote after less than five minutes, you can still vote the post even if more than five minutes are passed from the first time you clicked on the vote arrows.

The reason cast votes are locked is avoiding tactical down-voting, where users down-vote answers given for the question they answered, to make their own answer the top one, hoping to get more votes.

References

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  • Thank you! One more follow-up: are you saying this grace period to change a vote applies only when you vote on answers? Meaning that I can change upvotes/downvotes to questions since the same competitiveness shouldn't apply? – Boriana Ditcheva Oct 24 '12 at 13:18
  • @Boriana Grace period is for both Questions & Answers. Once you have cast your vote you cannot take it back unless its edited or you voted 5 mins back. – GoodSp33d Oct 24 '12 at 13:25
  • Oh, interesting. So the reason for not being able to undo a vote on a question is less obvious than for the 'strategically trying to place your answer as the best one' thing. In any case, this has been very helpful. Thank you!! – Boriana Ditcheva Oct 24 '12 at 13:31
  • @Boriana It applies for both answers, and questions. I agree, it makes less sense locking the votes for questions: You cannot favorite your question by down-voting the question asked from somebody else. You don't even lose reputation for down-voting a question; if somebody would down-vote a question to favorite another one, s/he would not probably remove the down-vote. I think the explanation is that for Stack Exchange code a vote for a question, or an answer is the same type of vote: UpMod. – kiamlaluno Oct 24 '12 at 13:46
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Can't find the definitive reference now, but IIRC you have a 5 minute window to undo a vote. If the posted is edited after the window closes, you should be able to change your vote.

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