July 10, 2014

10% of White House Petitions on “We the People” Go Unanswered

By Susannah Savage and Daniel Schuman

Petition Site logoAs part of a civic engagement experiment, President Obama promised to respond to petitions submitted through the We The People website if they reach a certain threshold of public support, indicated by signatures.

However, according to civic hacker Joshua Tauberer, more than 10 percent of We The People petitions that meet the threshold for a response have gone unanswered.

We The People is an online petition portal where users ask the administration to take action. When the White House first launched the site in 2011, a petition needed 5,000 signatures to garner a response from the administration. As the website’s popularity grew, the administration raised the threshold to 25,000; today, a petition needs 100,000 signatures within 30 days to get a response.

Of the 217 petitions that have met these thresholds, however, 29 have gone unanswered. Responses to 20 of the 29 unanswered petitions—including one calling for the labeling of Genetically Modified Foods and another asking for the President to pardon Edward Snowden—are more than a year overdue.

Dr. Tauberer’s blog lists the petitions awaiting responses. Let's hope the White House answers.

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