The White House is raising its “We the People” online petition threshold from 25,000 signatures to 100,000 in order to receive an official response from the Obama administration.
The move was announced by White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips after a spike in interest during the last two months of 2012.
“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,” Phillips said on the White House Blog.
Petitions must now receive 100,000 signatures within a 30-day timeframe, otherwise no official response will be given.
“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,” Phillips added.
The platform received a substantial amount of media coverage after the November presidential elections, with a large number of petitions seeking signatures to allow a certain state to secede from the United States. A White House official has since responded to those petitions, saying that the state will remain within the union
Another petition of note to reach the threshold called on the White House to publicly investigate and condemn the organ harvesting of practitioners of Falun Gong, a type of meditation practice, in China, where they have been subjected to more than one decade of abuse at the hands of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, according to rights groups.
Following the mass shooting deaths of school students in Connecticut last month, there was also a spate of petitions calling for stricter regulations on guns that received hundreds of thousands of signatures. There were also counter-petitions created against gun control.
Phillips said that most petitions that reached the 25,000 mark got the allotted number of signatures just five days after they were started, meaning that the 100,000 signature threshold will not be an insurmountable task to accomplish.
“More than 60 percent of the petitions to cross threshold in all of 2012 did so in the last two months of the year,” he added.
However, the petition platform has been called into question after a request to build the Star Wars Death Star received well over 25,000 signatures. There has also been a petition to prevent Nicholas Cage from ever acting again and one to remove Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as general manager of the team.
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