In a move that I am sure was inspired by too many petitions calling for Death Stars and such, the White House’s online petition site We the People has raised the threshold for getting an official response from the Obama Administration from 25,000 signatures to 100,000 signatures. At the time of this writing, only one out of the 273 petitions on the site has hit this mark – a petition with well over 300,000 signatures calling for the Westboro Baptist Church to be officially designated as a hate group. This makes sense, because anybody with a soul would support that.
Ultimately, I think this move is justified; the White House has had to pen 96 responses to petitions so far, including the really ridiculous ones. For example, one asks for Obama’s impeachment for four reasons that are basically just completely false. The White House responded as such, and in a very civil manner at that. Now, this change does not mean that the White House won’t be monitoring all the petitions that are put up, but hopefully it means that they will be able to dedicate much more time to organizing and creating effective responses to the petitions that actually cross the 100,000 signature threshold.
Sure enough, there is also a petition to lower the threshold back down to 25,000. Read the White House’s official justification after the break. In the mean time, check out Obama’s direct response to the WTP petition concerning gun violence below. No matter where you stand on the issue, it is nice to know that this website is actually paid attention to.
The White House’s reason for raising the threshold:
When we launched We the People, none of us knew how popular it would be, but it’s exceeded our wildest expectations. Through the past year, interest in We the People exploded and we’re closing in on 10 million signatures.
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.
In the last two months of 2012, use of We the People more than doubled. In just that time roughly 2.4 million new users joined the system, 73,000 petitions were created and 4.9 million signatures were registered.
As we’ve seen overall use skyrocket, more petitions are crossing the threshold – and doing so much more quickly.
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.