White House Now Requires 100K Signatures for Petition Response, Will Hopefully Weed Out Wacky Secessionists

By: Josh Wolford - January 16, 2013

About a month ago, I said that the White House’s “We The People” online petition site was “ensuring its legacy as a total joke.” I know, that’s pretty harsh. But at the time, it really looked like the experiment in active citizenship was going to burn out. When I made that statement, the site had a whopping 48 petitions that were sitting, unanswered by the White House.

That’s not 48 total petitions. That was 48 petitions that had crossed the 25,000 signature threshold, meaning that by rule they warranted an official response from the White House. 48 (about half of them were crazy secession petitions). Since then, 2 of the 48 have received responses (and one had to do with building a Death Star).

It was abundantly clear that in order to survive and to retain any level of legitimacy, the site had to restructure its signature threshold to make it a little bit harder to garner enough signature to trigger an official response.

Thankfully, the White House has done just that. Starting today, new petitions must receive 100,000 signatures in 30 days in order to receive a response from the administration. That’s up from the 25,000 that clearly wasn’t working, and 20x what was originally required when the site first opened up in 2011.

“When we first raised the threshold — from 5,000 to 25,000 — we called it “a good problem to have.” Turns out that “good problem” is only getting better, so we’re making another adjustment to ensure we’re able to continue to give the most popular ideas the time they deserve. Starting today, as we move into a second term, petitions must receive 100,000 signatures in 30 days in order to receive an official response from the Obama Administration. This new threshold applies only to petitions created from this point forward and is not retroactively applied to ones that already exist,” says Macon Phillips on the White House blog.

So does that mean the White House will be getting to work on those other 40+ petitions that deserve responses?

Anyway, this is the right move. The site is becoming way too big for a 25,000 threshold. It’s probable that eventually, the 100,000 threshold will need to be adjusted. If you give people a voice, no matter how small it is, they usually take advantage of it.

The White House says that participation has grown significantly in just the past two months: 2.4 million new users, 73,000 petitions, and 4.9 million signatures. In two months.

Here’s why the 25,000-signature threshold just wasn’t working:

“In the first 10 months of 2012, it took an average of 18 days for a new petition to cross the 25,000-signature threshold. In the last two months of the year, that average time was cut in half to just 9 days, and most petitions that crossed the threshold collected 25,000 signatures within five days of their creation. More than 60 percent of the petitions to cross threshold in all of 2012 did so in the last two months of the year.”

In total, the site has seen 9.1 million signatures on 141,000 petitions from 5.4 million users since its creation. Out of those 141,000 total petitions, 21 different agencies and departments have offered 162 official responses.

Josh Wolford

About the Author

Josh WolfordJosh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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  • Tom

    Petition to reduce back to 25,000

  • Terry

    There was a minor effort to hold the White House to task for being completely unresponsive to “We the People” but then Josh resorted the to standard ploy used by the left to cover for Obama…throw out a bunch of stats that have nothing to do with the issue which is the lack of response to 46 petitions.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/josh-wolford Josh Wolford

      Exactly which stats “have nothing to do with the issue?”

  • http://makeharp3happen.com Marcus John

    It really is a shame that some clowns made all these joke petitions and it ruined it for legitimate causes such as this one http://wh.gov/PQOH , which could help underwater home owners by eliminating the cutoff date to qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

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  • http://sailorcurt.com Sailorcurt

    The site’s legacy as a total joke was ensured from the minute they announced it.

    The fact that they actually took the time to respond to an obvious joke (the death-star petition) and have ignored other legitimate petitions just reinforces the plain fact that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt from the get-go and was never intended as a legitimate tool to gauge or address the concerns of “We The People”.

    I find it interesting (in a hypocritical sort of way) that the administration and its supporters simply imply (or outright state) that any petition with which they disagree is simply the product of loons and should rightfully be ignored. The solution? Move the goalposts (again).

    I was raised to believe that “honor” meant saying what you meant and fulfilling your promises. By the terms under which I was reared, this administration is one of the most dishonorable in history…and this site, and their reaction to receiving legitimate petitions to which they simply do not wish to respond, does nothing more than reinforce the impression.