White House quadruples threshold for petition website

The White House announced Wednesday that it was quadrupling the number of signatures required to receive an official response to a petition on its "We the People" website.

"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," White House director of digital strategy Macon Phillips wrote in a blog post. "This new threshold applies only to petitions created from this point forward and is not retroactively applied to ones that already exist."

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The announcement follows a week that saw the administration issue responses to demands the United States allow Texas to secede from the union, deport CNN host Piers Morgan and construct a "Star Wars"-inspired Death Star spaceship.

This is the second time that the White House has increased the threshold, having done so before in October 2011.

"When we first raised the threshold — from 5,000 to 25,000 — we called it 'a good problem to have,' " Phillips writes. "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."

According to the White House, use of the petition site had doubled over the past two months as petition efforts have garnered increasing media attention.

"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 said.

Moreover, petitions are more rapidly crossing the threshold beyond which the Obama administration promised to issue a response.

"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," said Phillips. "In the last two months of the year, that average time was cut in half to just nine 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 the threshold in all of 2012 did so in the last two months of the year."

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