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Problems with White House Petition Website

An article in the Huffington Post examnes the White House We the People petition web site, and garners some interesting lessons about e-government. It finds that “getting 150 print signatures is vastly easier than getting 150 electronic ones,” that the site was plagued with unannounced and unexplained downtime, and that the site had a cumbersome, difficult, time-consuming, and buggy registration process. It says that the registration process “violates the White House’s own policy for registering on Federal government websites” and that the site’s online record keeping features violate the White House’s own Open Government Directive. It says that, initially, the We the People website was not even easy to find. It notes the special difficulties associated with assuring that individuals don’t vote more than once, and the conflict of public officials wanting to maximize the public perception that they are open while at the same time doing as much as possible to control the flow of information that might prove politically damaging. It concludes that, regardless of the problems with the site, it “is praiseworthy as a significant new tool for bringing democracy into the Internet Age.”

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