NJ High School Girls To Deliver Petitions Demanding Woman Presidential Debate Moderator

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis — three high school students from Montclair — will deliver more than 130,000 signatures from their Change.org petitions, calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates to appoint a woman moderator for one of three 2012 U.S. presidential debates. No woman has moderated a debate between candidates for the U.S. presidency since 1992.

The students will deliver their petitions directly to the Commission on Tuesday, July 31, and will also deliver petitions directly to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC), urging both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to support their call.

Axelrod, Siegel and Tsemberis started their Change.org petitions after learning that it’s been 20 years since a woman last moderated a U.S. presidential debate. ABC’s Carole Simpson was the last person to moderate a presidential debate, in 1992, and is currently the only woman to moderate a debate since the Commission on Presidential Debates was established. PBS Newshour’s Gwen Ifill moderated Vice Presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.

“For two decades to pass without a woman moderating a presidential debate is shameful. Both the Commission on Presidential Debates and the two presidential candidates should recognize this historic opportunity and make sure that women are given a voice during the 2012 debates,” said Axelrod.

“Visibility equals equality in many ways, and by supporting the call for a woman moderator, both presidential campaigns and the Commission can send a strong message that they value the input and wisdom of women,” added Tsemberis.

This week, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the format for the three 2012 U.S. Presidential debates happening this fall. But the commission said that moderators will not be announced until August.

“This is the perfect moment for us to take our message to the Commission on Presidential Debates and the two campaigns,” said Siegel. “With the commission set to announce moderators next month, they’ll be hearing loud and clear from more than 130,000 Americans that two decades without a woman moderator is too long and needs to be changed.”

Ultraviolet, an organization dedicated to expanding women’s rights and combating sexism, also circulated a petition in support of Axelrod, Siegel and Tsemberis. Ultraviolet’s campaign has more than 80,000 signatures, which will be added to Tuesday’s petition delivery at the commission’s offices. Combined, the total number of petitions will exceed 200,000.


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