Not Eligible to Vote, Montclair Teens Petition to Get Female Moderator at Presidential Debates

August 03, 2012 at 4:00 am

It’s a big year in politics with a presidential election fast approaching. To help decide which presidential candidate to support, many Americans tune in to watch the debates, which have been moderated by a man for the past 20 years. When three Montclair High School teens, all aged 16, learned there hadn’t been a female moderator in their lifetimes, they decided to work to make it happen. They’ve created two petitions to encourage those with influence to choose a woman moderator for this year’s debates. They told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that they believe a woman needs to fill the role to show girls that they can pursue any career they want.

Sammi Siegel explained that she learned, along with fellow Montclair High School students Emma Axelrod and Elena Tsemberis, that it had been 20 years since there was a female moderator for the presidential debates, longer than they have been alive. “We were all just absolutely shocked,” Seigel said. “We decided to write a petition about it.”

Axelrod said between the two petitions they created — one targeted at the Commission on Presidential Debates and the other targeted at the Obama and Romney campaigns — they have about 180,000 signatures.


Three Montclair High School teens, all aged 16, created two petitions to encourage those with influence to choose a woman moderator for this year’s presidential debates. Video courtesy of NJ Today.

In addition to creating the petitions, the teens traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the debate commission chair. Tsemberis said they had boxes filled with print outs of petition comments along with a flash drive with signatures because they believed the commission would accept packages. She said when they arrived they were told the group only accepts paperwork, not packages. “We tried telling them that all that was inside was paper but they told us to take our boxes and walk back out,” she said.

Read the rest at NJ Today


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