Bittersweet day for young SCV presidential elector

Natalie Fortman, a sophomore at College of the Canyons, was one of California's 55 electors who voted Monday in the Electoral College at the statehouse in Sacramento.

In the end, Natalie Fortman said, Monday was a bittersweet day for her.

The 20-year-old College of the Canyons sophomore from Valencia was one of the 55 California electors who gathered in the Assembly Chamber of the statehouse in Sacramento as the Electoral College, in votes all across the country, put the finishing touches on the November presidential election — formally telling Donald Trump, “You’re hired.”

While there had been rumblings in other states of possible “faithless’’ Republican electors going rogue and denying Trump the White House, there was no such drama in California — where Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in November and, on Monday, perfunctorily got all the state’s 55 electoral votes delivered to her column.

Several hundred protesters – carrying signs such as “Not my president” and “Electoral College: Save U.S.’’ — did gather outside the statehouse before the electors’ vote, but they were there more to make a larger anti-Trump point and perform for news cameras, Fortman indicated.

“I was just so excited to do it,’’ Fortman told The Signal when it was all over.

“When I saw Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot, there was that feeling of somebody breaking a glass ceiling … but then not as much as you thought.

“I guess it was a happy moment, and ultimately not a happy moment.”

Presidential elector Natalie Fortman of Valencia at the statehouse in Sacramento on Monday.
Presidential elector Natalie Fortman of Valencia at the statehouse in Sacramento on Monday.

Fortman — an environmental policy analysis major at COC who plans to transfer to UC Davis and ultimately become an environmental lawyer – was pledged to Clinton and to Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, Tim Kaine.

Fortman said the whole process of formalizing California’s presidential choice took about 90 minutes, with Secretary of State Alex Padilla presiding over the proceedings.

“We got into the Assembly (chamber) around 1, the meeting was called to order, we said the Pledge of Allegiance and then we took the oath (as electors),” Fortman said.

After the electors named a chairperson and a secretary – no, Fortman was not one of them, “but that’s OK” – each elector got two pieces of paper, one for president, one for vice president, Fortman said.

Those ballots had the names of Clinton and Kaine pre-printed on them, and each elector signed the ballots and turned them in.

“If you didn’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, you would have had to cross it off,” Fortman said.

But no one there did – unlike in Maine, Minnesota and Colorado, where, according to reports, three Democratic electors tried to defect from Clinton but had their “faithless” votes rejected because state laws bound them to the candidates to whom they were pledged.

In the end, Trump received 304 electoral votes, two fewer than the 306 he had on Nov. 8, but still well more than the 270 needed to win the presidency, according to tracking done by the Associated Press.

In fact, according to reports, more electors nationwide defected from Clinton than from Trump, despite lobbying in some circles to induce GOP electors to abandon the real-estate magnate and one-time reality TV star.

But in Sacramento, Fortman reported, electors stuck to the November playbook. There was not even any talk among them of going off-script, she said.

Natalie Fortman tours the statehouse on Monday.
Natalie Fortman tours the statehouse on Monday.

“It was mostly, where are you from, how did you get nominated, that type of thing,” Fortman said of the pre-vote banter among the California electors.

After the vote, elector Christine Pelosi, daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, offered a resolution that called for a probe into Russian hacking and interference with the general election.

Fortman said the resolution passed unanimously, and to loud cheers.

That was as dramatic as it got.

Fortman got to take part in Monday’s machinations because she was named an elector by Bryan Caforio, the Democratic nominee for House of Representatives in the 25th District race. She had worked as a volunteer for Caforio, who lost to Steve Knight in the general election.

Despite the election not turning out as she had hoped, Fortman said, the whole process “definitely has inspired me to become more involved in politics on a local level and on a larger level.’’

It also made for a memorable family day for her, her mom Annette and sister Katy, who watched from the gallery and were able to take pictures afterward.

“This was such a great opportunity for me, and my family as well,” Fortman said.

She said her dad, John, was sorry he couldn’t make it – but that he’ll get an earful of good stories once all the Fortmans can gather back in Valencia.

“My dad is a conservative, but he changed his registration to ‘no party preference’ after Trump got the nomination,’’ Fortman said.  “It makes for some pretty lively debates around the house. But I still love him.”

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