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Montclair Teens Instrumental In Having Female Journalist Moderate Presidential Debate

The High School Juniors Collected 180,000 Signatures On Petition
Obama photo: (file/Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) Romney photo: (file/Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Obama photo: (file/Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) Romney photo: (file/Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – This year’s presidential debate moderators have been set. And thanks in part to three Montclair High School juniors, this election cycle will feature the first female debate moderator in 20 years.

The teenagers were given a civics assignment aimed at getting students engaged in politics, so they started a petition on Change.org to try to get a woman moderator.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

“A lot of people just didn’t know that there hadn’t been a female debate moderator for a presidential debate in 20 years,” Sammi Siegel told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

They’re not even old enough to vote, but Siegel said there needs to be more equality in the political arena.

“We are three 16-year-old girls, we saw something we didn’t like about the way that we were being treated as young women in our country, we set out to change it, and we were listened to,” Siegel told Diamond.

Armed with 180,000 signatures, the girls said they went to Commission on Presidential Debates to hand deliver the petition but got turned away.

“It reflected poorly on them so I think they had to turn it around and they had to make it ok and they did,” Elena Tsemberis told Diamond.

The Commission has since announced CNN’s Candy Crowley will host a town-hall style debate on October 16.

“A lot of TVs are gonna be tuned to the debates in American homes this year and we want the little girls who are in front of those TVs to see that women are just as equally capable of doing this as men,” Emma Axelrod told Diamond.

“It’s just a lot about having a woman up there and serving as a role model,” Siegel said.

Crowley will moderate the in Hempstead, Long Island. ABC’s Martha Raddatz will host the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan a few days earlier. CBS News’ Bob Schieffer has also been named moderator for a debate this fall.

Were you surprised to learn that  woman hasn’t moderated a presidential debate in 20 years? Sound off in the comments section below…