UNITED STATES — Pole watching enthusiasts from around the country find themselves at the center of the nation’s politics. Over the past week, President Trump’s tweets concerning poll watchers being banned from observing ballots being counted have brought unwanted attention to this small but passionate group.
“It’s just, ever since President Trump started tweeting about poll watchers, we’ve faced a deluge of messages, calls, and texts,” said Tom Roberts, president of the Pole Watchers of America. “All we ever wanted to do was simply gaze upon the upright pole in peace.”
Under the increased pressure and online harassment, many are seeking new hobbies that don’t conflate them with President Trump’s baseless claims about fraudulent voting.
Bob Patterson has been pole watching for years, even going so far as to spend his wedding anniversary pursuing a rare albino pine telephone pole in Wilmington, Vermont.
“I started pole watching as a fun way to spend some time outdoors with my son,” Patterson said. “Now all he talks about is Trump’s poll watchers and when will mommy come home.”
For people like Bob Patterson, the extra attention has put a damper on an activity they were once passionate about, causing them to seek fulfillment elsewhere.
“I’ve given up pole watching entirely. I’m more into birds now. Birds are cool. They, uh, fly around and have feathers. I love birds,” Patterson said unenthusiastically.
The shadow of a concrete electric pole caught his eye and the faint flicker of a smile appeared on his face before he looked away and shook his head.
“Please come back, Sharon,” Patterson added.