Security turns away high schoolers petitioning for female debate moderators

The New Jersey high schoolers who were planning to drop off their petition for a woman moderator at the Commission on Presidential Debates were turned away by building security at the commission's Washington, D.C., headquarters Tuesday.

"Security told us they don't accept packages anymore," Elena Tsemberis said when reached by telephone. "They've known we were coming since Friday." Tsemberis, Emma Axelrod and Sammi Siegel brought boxes with printouts from their petition and flash drives with all the signatures on them. Security, Tsemberis said, told the trio they "couldn't take our word for it" that the boxes contained only paper and wouldn't let them in the building.

"It's a letdown that they wouldn't meet with us and give us their time," Tsemberis said. "It reflects poorly on them."

The three said they'd never had any contact with the commission, but it gets an email every time someone signs their petition, and they notified it last week they'd be coming. Axelrod tweeted a photo of the trio in front of the building with the boxes they hoped to present.

Next stops: offices for the Obama and Romney campaigns. The students said they'd let Poynter know what happens there. I've left a message with the commission requesting comment.

Previously: High school students petition Presidential Debate Commission, demand female moderator

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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