Are Online Petitions The Future Of Democracy?

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The White House took an innovative step at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term by creating We The People, and online petition site where if a petition received enough signatures, the White House would be required to respond.  Watch this video to learn more about how it works.

We The People was most recently in the news as a result of a recent petition successful petition to build a Death Star (and the hilarious response from the White House), it is easy to dismiss it -as many have done – as another frivolous tool for jokers and those with a perpetual axe to grind, We The People is quickly maturing into something beyond that.

We The People is quickly maturing into something beyond a tools for jokers and those with an axe to grind

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To date, there have been 97 responses, many which weigh in on public issues such as curbing gun violence, SOPA and legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.  We The People has over 5.4 million participants, who have offered up 9.1 million signatures..  In response, the White House has now raised the bar on issuing a response to 100,000 signatures.

One of the most interesting (and powerful) tools of the site is that every user who signs a petition is emailed the official response.  In the case of the Death Star petition, the response included a link to NASA’s mailing list that notifies users when the International Space Station is overhead in their area.  As a result of that mention, 100,000 people signed up to the list.

This seems to be one “e-governace” tool that is working, albeit imperfectly.  But it is an easy way for citizens to directly interact with the federal government.  Citizens often cite “no one is listening” as a primary reason for not being civically engaged.  Here’s one possible tool to combat that.

I’d like to hear what you think.  Please add a response on our Facebook Page post discussing the issue or reply to this email.  Would love to get your take.

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