White House unveils online petition tool

screenshot of white house's "we the people" site
white house, we the people

The White House today announced a new online tool to help people petition the government and get official feedback. In a statement, President Obama said the new "We the People" feature helps fulfill his campaign promise to make government more open and accountable.

The "We the People," when it launches later this month, will allow people to create petitions for specific government actions and gather signatures for the petitions. If a petition reaches a certain level of popularity (starting with 5,000 signatures within 30 days), policy makers in the Obama administration will review the idea and publish an official response.

The feature is about "giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

The White House acknowledged this kind of online engagement is nothing new, citing the United Kingdom's epetitions tool. It's not new within the U.S., either -- the Republican party has launched various efforts to engage voters online, including the "YouCut" program that allows people to give input on cutting government spending, and the "America Speaking Out" page.

Mr. Obama has also engaged with voters using various online tools. For instance, the president has held multiple online town hall meetings, as well as a Twitter town hall.