Bristle Software Voting Tips

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Table of Contents:

  1. Register online to vote
  2. Absentee ballots
  3. Where, when, and how to vote (coming soon...)
  4. Donate to campaigns
  5. How to talk about politics
  6. Single Transferable Vote (coming soon...)

Details of Tips:

  1. Register online to vote

    Original Version: 9/18/2018
    Last Updated: 10/17/2018

    Register to vote!  Time is running out!

    Not yet registered?  Moved to a new address?  Not sure?

    It's VERY easy to register.  And very easy to check if you're already registered at your current home address.  (Important, since you can't vote if your address is wrong.)

    For college students, it's also very easy to change your registration to your school address, so you don't have to go home to vote on election day.

    In PA and most other states, you can use a simple on-line form.

    Any other good links I should add?


  2. Absentee ballots

    Original Version: 10/21/2018
    Last Updated: 10/21/2018

    Can't get to the polls on election day, Tuesday Nov 6?  Get an absentee ballot!

    Apply for the ballot ASAP!
    The deadline to apply is typically 7-14 days before the election.
    The deadline to submit is typically 4-7 days before the election.
    In Pennsylvania, apply by Tuesday 10/30, and submit by Friday 11/2.


    1. Download an application online, print, fill it out and sign.  (I just did mine.  Simple form.  Took about 60 seconds.)
    2. Mail or hand-deliver it to the election office before the apply deadline
    3. Receive the ballot via US mail.
      Note: In PA, you CANNOT pick it up in person.  It MUST be mailed to a valid street address, not a PO box (to prevent fraud).
    4. Fill out and sign the ballot
    5. Mail or hand-deliver it to the election office before the submit deadline.
      Note: In PA, you CANNOT have someone else deliver it.  Either mail it, or deliver it in person (to prevent fraud).

    You can use an absentee ballot if you are:

    Required on the PA application:

    To download an absentee ballot:

    Any other tips or links I should add?


  3. Donate to campaigns

    Original Version: 10/20/2018
    Last Updated: 10/20/2018

    I generally like to stay out of other people's business, so I've always ignored elections in other parts of the country, figuring those people should decide what's right for themselves, and I shouldn't get too involved.

    But this time, things have gone too far.  Huge amounts of money are being spent on TV and Web ads to influence voters.  And too much of it is being spent to support politicians that I would hate to see elected.  Especially since they support a president that I find dishonorable and an agenda that I find despicable.  Suddenly, it DOES matter to me who gets elected to the US Senate in faraway Texas.  So, my wife and I decided how much we could afford to donate to help with the "Blue Wave".

    Then, I spent days researching which races around the country would benefit most from our money.  We ended up splitting our $2,000 among 30 different candidates that were all in tight races.  Lots of of our info came from sites that I've now added to the Election row of my links page:

    For example:


  4. How to talk about politics

    Original Version: 10/17/2018
    Last Updated: 10/17/2018

    Wondering why you disagree so strongly with some of your seemingly intelligent friends about politics?  Why do they not see the light when you show them the facts?

    Here's a good book I found recently.  I bought a pile of copies (only $12 each) and have been handing them out to friends.  I suggest you buy a copy, and read the intro and the 1st chapter.  I think you'll be hooked.

    It's the first sensible explanation I've found of how seemingly intelligent people can disagree so much with me on such seemingly obvious issues.  How can they actually support Trump, for example?  Are really all malicious, selfish, racist people?  All of them?  Or foolish people who are easily conned?  Or what?

    No.  In many cases, it's because they are locked into a frame of reference that is very different from the one I'm locked into.

    When I toss out a fact that doesn't fit their frame, they disregard it as untrue or some sort of outlier.  And I do the same with facts they toss at me, when they don't fit my frame.

    That doesn't make the 2 sets of facts equally true, but it does explain the bias that makes some facts hard to accept.

    The book does a great job of laying out 2 different frames and how they affect our values, opinions, and ability to accept facts.  According to the book, some people have more of a "strict father" mindset and others have more of a "nurturant parent" mindset, but lots of people have a mix of both.

    The "strict father" types believe that the world is a harsh place with much to be feared.  Kids are born bad and have to be taught to be good.  Fathers must take a strong stance to defend their children from the evil world.  And must punish them when they misbehave.  Also, pursuing your own self-interest tends to lead to the best result for all, with the weak and undisciplined naturally falling by the wayside while the strong and self-reliant prosper.  Even though I lean mostly the other way, I'll admit that some of that does ring true with me.  Especially when I meet people who feel entitled to get free handouts and never want to make any effort of their own.

    The "nurturant parent" types believe that the world is a good place and can be improved.  Kids are born good and should be encouraged to be even better.  Parents must provide a healthy, safe, supportive environment in which their kids can grow to their fullest potential.  Also, protecting the interests of all, in a fair way, tends to lead to the best result for all.  This rings far more true for me.  It fits much better with the Golden Rule that we all learned as kids: "Do unto others..."

    The result is that "strict father" types tend to believe it's wrong to help others too much.  Better to let them wither away as they deserve for being weak.  So they make the "moral choice" to "do the right thing" by voting against social programs that help "bad people" (those in need).  And they vote for programs that reward the "good" (rich successful people and corporations).

    And the "nurturant parent" types tend to believe it's wrong to not help others in need, whenever you are able to.  So they make the "moral choice" to "do the right thing" by voting for social programs that help "unfortunate people" (those in need through no fault of their own).  And they vote against programs that reward the "fortunate" (rich successful people and corporations, who should be more able and therefore more expected to carry the load).

    Until you recognize the "frame" that you or someone is trapped in, there are limits to how much you can change your mind or theirs with mere facts.  Instead, you have to change their frame, and gradually convince them that their idea of "doing the right thing" is actually mean, petty, harmful, self-serving, and generally dishonorable.  And you can't do that by yelling at them.  Only by setting a good example, using the right terminology, and constantly reinforcing your message.

    The effect is so strong that "good" people on both sides will generally vote according to their "values", even when it's not in their personal best interest.  For example, poor minorities may still vote for a cruel, petty, racist candidate if they believe in the values that he claims to support: "strength against our common enemies", "rewarding the successful for succeeding", etc.  They're not necessarily being stupid, failing to understand that they and their families may lose their social security, medicare, medicaid, and other support programs.  They may actually be doing what they think is "right"!

    And rich comfortable mid- to upper-class people may vote for higher taxes, more social programs, etc.  Again, they're not simply being stupid, failing to realize they they will end up paying higher taxes for social programs that they will probably never collect on personally.  They too are doing what they think is "right"!

    Interesting concept. It was a real eye opener for me. 

    That's why it's so hard to change the mind of people on the other side. They have a fundamentally different set of values, and may truly believe what they are saying.  If you do argue with them, watch for them to give up and propose that you just "agree to disagree".  That's a sign that you're getting through to them.  They're starting to listen to the words coming out of their mouths and realizing that they don't like what they're hearing.  It sets up a sort of "cognitive dissonance" in their brain, and they get uncomfortable and want to end the conversation.

    Good luck!


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