The past presidential election was one of excitement and intensity, some of which stemmed from the presidential debates throughout October. The debate of note was the second one- a “town hall” styled debate that took place at Hofstra University on October 16, where, for the first Presidential debate in 20 years, a woman was chosen as a moderator. Her selection as the debate moderator was exciting for many, especially for three teenage girls who gathered over 170,000 signatures on their petition on change.org that called for a woman moderator.
Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis, all from Monclair, N.J., had gathered the signatures and traveled to Washington D.C. to deliver them to the Commission on Presidential Debates. When turned away at the door, the three young women did not give up, but began an online campaign.
As their campaign gathered support, it also gathered media attention: the three teens were featured on MSNBC News, Fox News, NPR, The Melissa Perry-Harris Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and others. As a direct result, a national discussion on the representation of women’s issues in politics open up, starting with the question of woman moderators for presidential debates.
When the Commission on Presidential Debates did announce the moderators for the presidential and vice presidential debates, two women moderators were selected, Candy Crowley (CNN’s chief political correspondent) for the town-hall style presidential debate and Martha Raddatz (ABC’s Senior Foreign Affairs correspondent) for the vice presidential debate. This marked the first time in history where half of the debates have been moderated by women. Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis took on the giant… and won.