“We the People,” The White House’s online petition site that lets citizens create grassroots campaigns on issues important to them, officially went live this morning three weeks after it was first announced.
The site aims to give a voice to citizens, allowing them to register petitions with WhiteHouse.gov on any issue. If a petition gets 150 signatures it will become searchable on the site. If it gets 5,000 signatures over a 30-day period, it will be sent to a White House policy official for a response.
President Obama himself will answer some petitions, although the majority will come from White House staff.
“When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens,” Obama said on the site when it was first announced. “That’s what the new We the People feature on WhiteHouse.gov is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them.”
In a few rare cases (such as specific procurement, law enforcement, or adjudicatory matters), The White House response might not address the facts of a particular matter to avoid exercising improper influence, according to the site.
The site also says its likely the threshold needed for signatures will change in the future depending on the response the site gets.
Users will also be notified of similar petitions when registering their own petition to lower the amount of duplicates. If a petition does not get enough signatures it will be deleted from the site.