These are the rules of the US presidential town hall debate


This post has been corrected.

With less than a month to go in the election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are set to debate each other again on Oct. 9, but this time in a town hall format. The debate will start at 8pm CT (9 pm EST) and last 90 minutes with no commercial breaks. Following the publication the Donald Trump video in which he makes predatory comments about women, the debate is likely to be particularly heated.

Unlike the other debates, the topics for this one aren’t disclosed in advance. Trump has already hinted at his intention of bringing up Bill Clinton’s history of infidelity, and Clinton is likely to further press Trump on the video’s revelations.

How can I watch it?

There are many options, on TV and online. Nine channels will broadcast the debate. It will also be available via livestream on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Here is a comprehensive list of all the options to watch.

Who attends the debate?

Unlike the other debates, the audience isn’t picked at random in the town hall. It’s made up of 40 citizens selected by Gallup, a firm specialized in opinion polls, amongst a group of undecided voters. It’s hard to tell exactly how many voters have yet to choose their candidate, but it’s likely somewhere around 4%.

Who gets to ask questions?

Unlike the previous debate, where the two candidates were asked questions by the moderator and the audience was (supposedly) silent, this format involves the audience. The moderators—in this case Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz—will select questions from the audience as well as from social media users, with follow up from the moderators.

Who choses the questions from the audience?

The moderators have control over who asks the questions and what questions are asked. It’s not clear how the selection process works, though it’s likely that questions are screened before the start of the debate. A leaked 2004 memorandum (pdf) of understanding from the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), the organization that sets the rules and sponsors the debate, shows that very little direction is given about the selection process.

How long does each candidate speak for?

Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the questions. The host can use any remaining time to ask further questions about the topic.

Will the candidates ask each other direct questions?

They are not supposed to, although in the previous debate Trump interrupted Clinton so many times (51, to be specific) so it’s likely that there will be some back and forth between the candidates.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated that the moderators would ask their questions first.

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