It's Time for a Woman Moderator: Equality in the 2012 Presidential Debates!
  • Petitioned Mike McCurry

This petition was delivered to:

Co-Chair, Commission on Presidential Debates
Mike McCurry
Executive Director of the Commission on Presidential Debates
Janet Brown
Co-Chair, Commission on Presidential Debates
Frank Fahrenkopf
Commission on Presidential Debates

It's Time for a Woman Moderator: Equality in the 2012 Presidential Debates!

    1. Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis, and Sammi Siegel .
    2. Petition by

      Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis, and Sammi Siegel .

      Montclair, NJ

August 2012


On August 13, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that CNN's Candy Crowley will moderate the second presidential debate on October 16.

Three high school students -- Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis -- started a campaign on earlier this summer asking the Commission to select a female moderator, after learning in their high school civics class at Montclair High School that a woman has not moderated a U.S. general election presidential debate since 1992.

“What a huge victory for women, for equal representation, and for the more than 180,000 people who stood with us and demanded a female presidential debate moderator,” said Sammi Siegel. “We are thrilled that the Commission on Presidential Debates is ending their 20-year drought on women moderators. It is long past due to have a woman on the same stage as the men running for president.”

In addition to their first petition to the Commission on Presidential Debates (, the three girls also launched a petition to the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns ( which attracted support online and offline, including from Carole Simpson, the last woman to moderate a presidential debate in 1992. In addition, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm also expressed support.

“Through this campaign, millions of Americans learned that two decades passed without a woman moderating a U.S. presidential debate,” said Emma Axelrod. “We are so proud to have helped educate Americans on this issue, and are extremely happy that women and girls watching the debates this year will see a potential role model up on the stage moderating.”

“Having the support of people like Carole Simpson, Sen. Gillibrand, and Rep. Maloney -- powerful women who are heroes to many -- underscored for us how important this campaign was to wage,” said Elena Tsemberis. “This campaign wasn’t about partisan politics, or liberal or conservative issues. This was about equal representation, regardless of political party. When Candy Crowley takes the stage to moderate the debate between Obama and Romney, it will be a victory for all Americans.”


(Note: To sign a second petition calling on the Romney and Obama campaigns to support the call for a woman presidential debate moderator, please go here:

This is an exciting time to be a young woman interested in politics. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s presidential and vice presidential campaigns put women in the spotlight in the political realm in 2008, finally providing a way for girls across our nation to envision themselves in these positions of power.

We already know that no women will be on stage at this year's presidential debates, but what about in the moderator's chair? We were shocked to find out that it has been 20 years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate.

Moderators are chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is made up of three women out of seventeen commissioners.  20 years is way too long: we're encouraging the Commission to name at least one woman to moderate one of the three upcoming presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Presidential debate moderators have a lot power when it comes to helping the American public to better understand candidates. Being a moderator is a tough job; the moderator must keep debate flowing, make sure candidates stay focused on relevant topics, and maintain an unbiased stance. 

Men are no more capable of performing these tasks than women -- but for the last two decades, only men have been given the job.

Women and men will never be truly equal in our country until they’re one and the same in positions of power and both visible in politics.  We need to take immediate action in order to move towards this change. There is no reason why a woman shouldn’t have a chance to show what she’s capable of by moderating debates in the upcoming election.

Tell the Commission on Presidential Debates to have a woman moderate one of the debates now.

Recent signatures


    1. Current TV: Teens call for woman moderator in the 2012 presidential debates

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis, and Sammi Siegel apeared on Current TV's "The War Room with Jennifer Granholm" to discuss their petition on, their motivation for starting their campaign, and their plans to deliver their petition on July 31. Check out their awesome interview at the link below!

    2. Reached 100,000 signatures
    3. ABC: Students launch petition for female moderator at 2012 debates

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      ABC News reported, "ABC News' Carole Simpson, the last woman to moderate a presidential debate, served as moderator of a 1992 debate between Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. PBS' Gwen Ifill moderated two vice presidential debates ( 2004's Dick Cheney-John Edwards and 2008's Joe Biden-Sarah Palin), but the rest have been moderated by men."

    4. TV Guide -- "Female presidential debate moderator?"

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      Take a poll on TV Guide's website to choose which moderator you would like to moderate the debates.

    5. Reached 75,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • George Blake OLATHE, KS
      • about 2 years ago

      Nice. You ladies pushed hard and got TWO Female Moderators. Good job.

      • about 2 years ago

      Women have certain vested interests in the outcome of this election, and it will be a woman who can ask these questions, getting to the feminine interests in the issues.

    • Shanti Gettys CONWAY, SC
      • about 2 years ago

      Because I want to vote for equality and my children's future.

    • Bryan Evony WICHITA FALLS, TX
      • about 2 years ago

      In Honor of my mother and Grandmother.

    • Nancy M OAKLAND, CA
      • about 2 years ago

      The right woman moderator for the Presidential Debates would bring fairness, balance and accountability to the debates. I'm tired of questions being asked and the answers glossed over or never being answered at all. It's time for Rachael Maddow!


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