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Candidates' Withdrawals Before Super Tuesday Leave Some Early Voters Frustrated

Stella Chavez
Candidate Joe Biden hosted his Dallas rally at Gilley's Dallas.

More than 700,000 Texas Democrats voted early for today’s Super Tuesday primary, but tens of thousands of them voted for candidates who are no longer in the race.

Some North Texas supporters of former candidates Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer said they were frustrated about voting for someone who’s since dropped out. 

Credit Stella Chavez / KERA News
Lee Swift came to the Biden rally after voting for Pete Buttigieg.

Outside the Joe Biden Dallas rally, 57-year-old Lee Swift was among those in line waiting to go in.   

He voted early for Pete Buttigieg and was disappointed when the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana dropped out of the race on Sunday.

“I wish he had waited cause I actually thought he was going to wait until after Super Tuesday, but his delegates, I’m sure, will in the second round go for Joe Biden. Next time, I’m going to be voting on Election Day, I guarantee ya,” he said with a laugh. 

Even though his candidate is out of the Texas Democratic primary, Swift said he plans to do whatever he can to persuade family members and friends to vote for Biden.

Buttigieg and other former rivals – Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke — endorsed Biden in Dallas Monday.

Some voters like Amber Haas said the early voting system is problematic. The 35-year-old voted early for Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and worried she too would drop out.

Haas wishes Texas election officials would consider adopting an idea other states have.

“What I think we should have is ranked voting and you vote for your first person and then if for some reason that one drops out, you name that second one and your vote can go to that second one. I think that’s the best way to do it,” she said. 

Credit Stella Chavez / KERA News
People wait outside Joe Biden's Dallas rally.

Political scholars like Rebecca Deen, an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington, said it’s unusual to have candidates drop out right before a major primary like Super Tuesday.

“It’s completely understandable that some voters would feel very frustrated with the fact that they have already cast their ballots and now the people they voted for have dropped out,” she said. “I’m not sure if it means the system is flawed. In some ways, it’s just a quirk of this particular cycle.” 

Texans have 10 days before Super Tuesday to cast their ballots at special polling stations. The field of Democratic presidential candidates was large this year. 

Usually, Deen said, candidates stay in.

“Famously, in 2012 among the Republicans, Sen. Ron Paul didn’t drop out at all. He said I recognize I can’t win the nomination, but I’m not dropping out," Deen said. "And of course, in 2008, Sen. Clinton didn’t drop out until Sen. Obama was the presumptive nominee. That was in June.” 

Deen said she can’t imagine the logistics of allowing people to vote again or change their vote.

Some voters, like Pushkala Raman, said they’ve made peace with their choice, even if their preferred candidate is out of the race.

Raman voted for Klobuchar and her husband for Buttigieg. Still, she wouldn’t want the option to change her vote or vote again.

“I don’t think that’s right. It’s going to mess up the system,” she said. “I went into it fully aware that my candidate might drop out and so I think it’s just part of the Democratic process and I think, you know, that’s how things should roll.” 

Plus, she adds, there are some benefits to voting early — she won’t have to leave work to vote today and she beat the crowds that come on Primary Day.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.