Emerging Tech

Citizens in nearly every state petition White House for right to secede

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This story was last updated at 3:30 p.m. to reflect that petitions for Maryland and Connecticut to secede appeared on the public site. For the most recent story and to find out which state was the last holdout, click here.

The number of states where a handful of citizens were asking to secede from the union on the White House’s We the People online petition site had grown to 49 by Wednesday afternoon.

Petitioners from Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina had reached the 25,000 signatures threshold to receive an official reply from the White House.

Vermont was the only state whose residents had not filed a publicly visible secession petition. We the People petitions aren’t visible on the site until their authors have received at least 150 signatures through social media, so petitions from those states may simply not be visible yet.

A number of new counter petitions were also posted, including to Keep the United States United and to Force all states to pay their portion of the national debt before they can secede from the union.

The crush of secession petitions began on the White House’s year-old petition site the day after President Obama’s reelection and picked up steam on Monday and Tuesday. The petitions have been hyped by some conservative groups, including Tea Party websites, but that began mostly after the petitions themselves were posted.

We the People had previously settled into a relatively sleepy existence after an initial crush of petitions following its September 2011 launch.

The surge of secession petitions has also drawn petitioners with less fundamental demands to the site. Among those are petitions to grant asylum in the United States to Ugandans fleeing anti-gay legislation and to reform the Electoral College.

Several petitioners had also re-posted petitions that had already been answered in some form by the administration, such as petitions to remove references to god from U.S. currency and to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

There were indications White House administrators were having trouble managing the high numbers of petitions. One petition that was visible Wednesday morning and sought to legalize marijuana had an expletive in its title, a violation of We the People’s terms of participation. That petition’s text began with “SOOOOOO $TONED.” Much of the rest was unprintable. A petition from the comedian Duncan Trussell asking the White House to declare him “Emperor of the Planet” was up for several hours Tuesday afternoon before being removed for a terms of participation violation. 

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