By Brett Stover, News Director
Just after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, Board of Elections Commissioners Chairwoman Brooke Wiggins announced that Nathan Willett and Payton Englert won the 2017 Missouri Students Association presidential election with 54 percent of the vote. The Enhance Mizzou fee also passed with 79 percent.
However, just hours earlier, it seemed as if the “Tigers Together” campaign would be expelled from the election. In a statement released just after noon on Twitter, the BEC announced that it had “investigated a Form C submitted against the Willett/Englert campaign.” The BEC decided that, to them, the slate had obstructed the fair election process. The BEC then made the decision to expel the slate from the election as is their duty according to the election handbook, but that they would be allowed to continue to campaign until their appeal was heard.
Later that evening, the MSA Student Court convened to hear the appeal. According to BEC Vice Chair Joe Sell, a student had accused Willett of finishing a student’s ballot. The BEC did not release the student’s name.
At the MSA Senate meeting, held while the Court was still deliberating, students spoke on the issue during open forum. For about 90 contentious minutes many supporters of the Willett/Englert campaign criticized the BEC’s decision, asked for transparency and praised Willett’s character. These statements were met with frequent applause from the dozens of other supporters gathered in a packed Leadership Auditorium, much to the displeasure of Senate Speaker Mark McDaniel. One even held a sign that read “TORI & RILEY Rigging Elections Like Hillary.” A few speakers criticized a perceived lack of outreach to marginalized students by the “Tigers Together” campaign, although there were few other opponents of that campaign in attendance.
At 8:54 p.m., the BEC tweeted that the Student Court had overturned the decision made earlier in the day by the BEC: the Willett/Englert slate would not be expelled from the election.
Eventually, Wiggins announced that Willett and Englert had received 4,637 of the record 8,548 votes cast in the presidential election. Immediate cheers rang out from their supporters. After celebrating with his staff and friends, Willett went to talk to Tori Schafer, who had already left.
Tune in to the Pulse on KCOU 88.1 FM or online at kcou.fm Thursday from 5-6 p.m. to hear Payton Englert live in studio. You’ll also hear from “Tigers Together” co-campaign manager Leslie Parker, “Make it Matter” supporter Kelsey Christensen.