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Sometimes, I cannot change the up-vote action to an answer. There appears a pink notice saying

You last voted on this question 20 minutes ago. Your vote is now locked in unless this question is edited.

But many times I really can change the up-vote.

On what does this depend and what does it mean?

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Once you vote (up or down) and wait five minutes, your vote is 'locked'. You cannot undo your vote until the post is edited (as the notice says). The edit may or may not change the post sufficiently in order to warrant undoing the vote, but that's how the system works.

The times when you can undo the upvote is when the post has been edited after you voted, or when less than five minutes have passed after your vote.

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