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Robin Kindler and her daughter, Ashley, at UPMC Children's in Pittsburgh.

What one vote meant to one Pennsylvania mom

She was determined to vote on election day. A volunteer helped her. Here’s why.

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By Kimberly Palmiero


Robin Kindler was desperate to vote but couldn’t leave the hospital.

Kindler didn’t want to leave her daughter’s side at UPMC Children’s in Pittsburgh, where Ashley, 19, was admitted just days before the election, with an infection. Ashley suffers from a form of leukemia. 

Then a volunteer stepped in on Election Day and made the 90-minute drive between Pittsburgh and Crawford County — where Kindler lives — four times to get her ballot and delivered it.  

“I couldn’t believe that somebody was going to do this, a volunteer who doesn’t even know how I am going to vote,” Kindler said.

Kindler was one of the millions of Americans who felt especially passionate about their vote: With final tallies not yet in, turnout has hit at last a 50-year high, The Associated Press reports. As of Sunday, the tallied votes accounted for 62% of the eligible voting-age population in the U.S. By comparison, about 56 percent voted in 2016.

Kindler voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, but not this time: She was concerned about the future of the Affordable Health Care Act.

“The big thing to me with my daughter’s condition, and (possibly) getting rid of the Affordable Health Care Act,” said Kindler, who added that she votes for the person, regardless of party. “And then just assuming COVID is going to go away without a plan to make it go away. It was a really personal thing to be able to vote and it meant the world to me that they made that happen.

“He didn’t really need my vote again.”

Volunteer Sarah Bohl, of the North Side, jumped to action and met Kindler at 7 a.m. Nov. 3 at Children’s to start the paperwork. She linked up with Kindler through Ballots for Patients, a network of volunteers that help people in hospitals to vote, using a specific process as outlined by law and which ends with the volunteer hand-delivering the ballot sealed in an envelope by the voter.

Volunteer Sarah Bohl sent this photo of herself delivering Kindler's sealed ballot to the Crawford County Courthouse on Nov. 3.

“No mom with a sick kid should have to worry about whether their vote will be counted,” she said. “Life happens.”

Other volunteers made runs to Westmoreland and Somerset counties, and helped about 200 people this election cycle, co-founder Paul O’Hanlon said. O’Hanlon is a retired attorney who began the effort more than a decade ago. 

Bohl said she’s been inspired by the energy and passion of voters this election cycle.

“I’ve talked to people who hadn’t voted in years and they are. I hope we can keep that momentum going because the more people take part in the process the better country we’ll build,” she said. “It’s really incredible.”

 

Kimberly Palmiero is CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Postindustrial Media. She has more than 20 years of experience as an editor, project manager, and small business owner. She previously served as a managing editor for Trib Total Media in Pittsburgh, and also held editing roles with former Gannett news outlets. She is the immediate past president of the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. Reach her at kim@postindustrial.com.

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