The Case of the Missing We The People Petitions

Author: JH Snider
Coverage Type: op-ed
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States

[Commentary] On October 20, 30 days after the launch of the We The People Website and the last day before the first petitions started to be removed from the White House website, there were 208 posted petitions. On October 26, 2011, the number of posted petitions was 161 (by October 28 it had dropped to 125, of which only 76 had reached the 150 signature threshold in the last 30 days). Although most of the 161 double count those in the 208 tally, this suggests that well under 4 percent of the submitted petitions have reached the 150 signature threshold necessary to be publicly posted on the White House website. Why is this? One important factor is that it is far harder than most people suppose to get to the 150 signatures. Surprisingly, given the way the White House set up the registration, getting 150 print signatures is vastly easier than getting 150 electronic ones. My guess is that petition creators, in order to yield 150 actual signatures, need about 600 people willing to both click on the URL to sign the petition and then click on the register button. Given all the unannounced and unexplained downtime for the White House petition website, the ratio may exceed 1,000:150 for those unlucky petition creators who send out their publicity when the White House website is down.

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