Three high school students launched a campaign on Change.org asking the Commission on Presidential Debates to choose a female moderator in 2012. It has been twenty years since a woman has moderated a presidential debate

MONTCLAIR, NJ – More than 80,000 people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org calling upon the Commission on Presidential Debates to appoint a woman to moderate at least one of three debates in 2012 between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The last time a woman moderated a presidential debate was 1992.

Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis, three high school sophomores from Montclair, New Jersey, launched the campaign as part of a civics curriculum focused on getting students engaged and active in politics. When the students learned that it has been 20 years since a woman moderated a presidential debate between the two nominees for President of the United States, they launched a petition on Change.org.

The three women wrote on their petition: “Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s presidential and vice presidential campaigns put women in the spotlight in the political realm in 2008, providing finally a way for girls across our nation to envision themselves in these positions of power …. [but] women hold only 17% of the seats in Senate and 16.8% of the seats in the House of Representatives. In the past twenty years, they have made up 0% of the moderators of the Presidential debates.”

“The fact that there hasn't been a female moderator of one of the debates in so long is just another sign that America is a long way away from being as equal as it thinks it is,” said Emma Axelrod.

“When I learned that there has not been a female moderator for the presidential debates in twenty years, I was shocked,” said Sammi Siegel. “How can the issues important to women be addressed if they haven’t been given the chance to ask them?”

“In the last twenty years, a woman has not moderated a presidential debate. There should be at least one woman moderator at each of the upcoming presidential debates. The time when it was enough for a woman to be simply the wife of a politician has long passed,” said Elena Tsemberis.

ABC News’ Carole Simpson was the last person to moderate a presidential debate, in 1992. In the two decades since, Gwen Ifill (PBS) has moderated two Vice Presidential debates, but all U.S. Presidential debates have been moderated by male journalists.

“Emma, Sammi, and Elena have clearly ignited a movement of people passionate about seeing a woman chosen as a moderator for one of the upcoming U.S. presidential debates,” said Mike Jones, Deputy Campaign Manager at Change.org. “It’s great to see students using Change.org to let their voices be heard in the American political process. Emma, Sammi, and Elena are an inspiration to the thousands of people who’ve signed and supported their campaign.”