The White House announced Tuesday that petitions submitted through its online platform will now need 100,000 signatures to warrant an administration response, a fourfold increase from the previous 25,000 signature threshold.
White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips explained the change in a White House blog:
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. This new threshold applies only to petitions created from this point forward and is not retroactively applied to ones that already exist.
Phillips wrote that in last two months of 2012 alone, the "We the People" program registered 2.4 million new users and hosted 73,000 petitions, in which 4.9 million signatures were processed. The digital platform received widespread coverage in the wake of the November elections, when residents in all 50 states filed separate petitions asking the White House to secede from the union after President Barack Obama's reelection.
While largely considered a non-starter, they were highly popular, and the White House responded to them earlier this month. The states -- and especially Texas -- must remain part of the union, an administration official declared.
The actual relevance of the program was again called into question, however, when the White House shot down a call to build a Star Wars-like "Death Star" earlier this month, declaring that the administration "does not support blowing up planets."
So while the new guidelines will likely save the administration from having to expend future resources toward addressing a deluge of fringe issues -- like a demand for the deportation of a media personality or the criminal trial of a U.S. senator -- it will also make it more difficult for activists to force the White House to consider legitimate, though perhaps less attention-grabbing issues.
Perhaps like a petition to commission a reality TV show focused entirely on the day-to-day routine of Vice President Joe Biden?