Petitioning the White House is a Popular Affair

The White House recently announced that it has quadrupled the number of signatures required for a response on its online petition web site. WH Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips offered an explanation for this change.

News broke yesterday that the White House has quadrupled the minimum number of required signatures for a response on its “We the People” petition web site from 25,000 to 100,000.

White House Directory of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips attributed the change to the massive growth in use and popularity of the petition web site.

Phillips wrote:

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.

The news came at a time after a number of controversial petitions critical of the administration and its policies were posted and generated hundreds of thousands of signatures. Some of these included states requesting to secede from the union or repealing ObamaCare.

Perhaps some good news for federal employees is that the bump in required signatures came after the petition requesting that federal workers be given an extra paid holiday for Christmas Eve was circulated. That petition did exceed the then-required minimum 25,000 signatures and may have been a factor in helping the federal workforce earn the extra holiday.

Not everybody is happy about the increase in required signatures. In fact, a petition has been started to bring the required number of signatures back down to 25,000, although ironically since it was just created, it will have to get 100,000 signatures in order for it to receive a response from the White House.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.