New Tools and Technologies

Centralize petitions to Congress and the President

I worked as an intern in the House of Representatives and what astonished me the most was the outdated system we use for alerting representatives to the problems faced by the American people. Every day, each member of Congress receives hundreds of letters, some through e-mail, some handwritten, asking for a response to a very small number of issues. Most of these issues demand collaboration between many members of Congress. Wouldn't it be more efficient for citizens to demand change collectively, through the Internet? The British government already has a website like this at There, the Prime Minister can respond to petitions voted on by thousands of people. Obama has already done something like this by soliciting questions for his open dialogues--why not expand this tool to all of government?


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Similar Ideas [ 5 ]


  1. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )


    I agree with you. There are several positive outcomes of making letters/petitions to Congress and the President easy and transparent.

    (1) Public participation - engagement.

    (2) Many in Congress have tried to make it harder to use the Internet to deliver input. Because the incoming information is not unified, it is very challenging for aids to effectively deal with the shear amount if information coming in.

    (3) Efficiency -- Congress and the President could more easily leverage the web-based system and the information submitted online to communicate with one another. They could more easily share this information with one another.

  2. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    How would you control "cheaters?" People who would vote more than once, maybe millions of times?

  3. Comment

    I like this idea because currently to inform my senators of my choice on any issue I have to fill out three different online forms, not even a standard form as of last fall.

    To avoid "cheating" a verified online voters account should be created. I trust my money to such access why not my democracy. Complicity is the power of the entrenched. Keep it simple.

  4. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    I like this idea. I would add, however, that the location must be well known, and easily locatable. President Obama did a good job informing everyone about between election day and inaugeration day. I would suggest that this proposed idea would need to be well advertised, and not "hidden". A top level domain would be ok. For example, "" would be ok... It would be counterproductive to have it be ""...

  5. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    Right. A good way to do this would be to create national E-initiative, referendum and recall and give the voters the option of voting either online or by conventional ballot. 23 US states already have I&R and many other countries. The US needs to catch up if it is serious about open and transparent government. Furthermore, E-I&R would be very useful in hastening economic recovery, promoting world peace and creating a sustainable environment. For more, please see:

  6. Comment

    I do like this idea, but realiize that not everyone has access to the Internet or is sophisticated about using it. Unlike a previous commentator, I do not trust my money to the Internet and do no financial transactions by computer (aside from some credit-card purchases on well-verified sites), but never online banking or investment transactions—too dangerous, IMHO.

    Also, I like personal access to my representative; he or she is the person that was elected by MY district, not the nation.

    On the other hand, I realize that an OPTIONAL streamlining porcess can help; just don't want us to go overboard and limit what little personal access the average citizen has—the lobbyists already have more than their fair share.

  7. Comment

    I just want to say to those who are not computer literate that most libraries have internet access and usually help those who need help in understanding how to get online. Maybe all libraries should receive funding to upgrade and widen their computer labs, and classes?

  8. Comment
    Bryan Rosander

    Aren't there already petition systems online? How would this be different? Couldn't the politician's just declare that they will review and respond to petitions from their favorite petition site?

  9. Comment
    christoff eddleman

    public participation is key , the current system is pressured to change from the very old to what people need now,our lawmakers only voice what they can take in as being the most important issues ,perhaps looking at how outdated this infrustruture is now and public pressure to change these old methods that simply do not work

  10. Comment

    Yeah, in Germany they have a such a platform as well (copied it from the scots) - it is called "online-petition" and works terrific!

  11. Comment

    I disagree with this. By creating a 'protocol' for petitioning our government, we thereby restrict our 1st Amendment right to the "... right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    We don't need more rules restricting our 1st Amendment rights!

  12. Comment

    And then, what? Petitions from other avenues would not be accepted or read? What if the government site started rejecting whole categories of demands? Good-sounding, bad idea.

  13. Comment

    There are sites for this already, but since your idea is (presumably)in addition to, not in replacement of, those sites, so that individuals wouldn't have to opt-in to be heard, this idea could really work.

  14. Comment

    The complexities of business and invention need not be compromised in supporting standard portal connections. The ability to connect to the rest of the world and access the strength of community the web has to offer is vital for all humanity to compete in future learning environments. The fundamental secure portal that this writing refers to is a high level secure portal connection, the device offers the user the immediate ability to connect and transmit or receive data on the move. It unifies what is technically possible and marketable into a single device. Vital statistics would be monitored and available to the user for analysis. Applications that enhance the user in interactions with the community at large offer advantages that right now while available, are weakened in usefulness by fragmented and independent design. The trends in communications design and embedded applications have made rapid acceptance in society. The convergence with green power generation from the user coupled with embedded applications that provide enhancements for connectivity would also assist in societies efforts to reign in cybercrime. A standard portal device will offer encryption levels that are hack proof and will be designed to ensure user privacy. A citizen standard connection portal, in the spirit of transparency the strength in the adoption lies in the societal acceptance. When all citizens have the power of connectivity to participate in the strength of community, opportunity for enhanced learning becomes more powerful as well.

    The costs of governance have the potential for drastic reduction. By merely giving every person in America immediate connectivity no matter where they are in the world reduces the infrastructure costs of providing the services of government and society as a whole. By giving this level of possibility to all Americans the strength of what it means to participate in building success will become immediately apparent. The design of this device through peer review across the population’s diverse spectrum of scientists’, business leaders, social network professionals and government agencies, along with the public at large will give 21st century clout to the protection offered within the constitution.

    Cyber security will be made highly affordable to implement as the standard would have the largest audience not only in its creation but as well in its deployment. Once deployed the increased connectivity to efficiently deliver the services primarily of government but of all aspects of societal interactions, will be the 21st century platform for all cumulative societal efforts engaged in national and global prosperity.

    Wireless connectivity offers the most efficient transition to full participatory access for all Americans.

  15. Comment

    This is a very good suggestion. The Downing Street petition system is a well-known example, but as pointed out above, was actually inspired by the Scottish Parliament.

    I've been researching and writing about the e-petition system in Europe, so if it helps, here is some more background information:

    - Here's an interview with Professor MacIntosh who oversaw the implementation of this system in the Scottish parliament:

    - The Lower House of the German Parliament (the Bundestag) also has a similar system in place, also inspired from the Scottish example. They've actually set up a Committee especially for this "mediation" procedure.

    - The House of Commons, in the UK, is in the process of implementing this system as well. Worth noting: 3 times a year, successful e-petitions would be subject to public debate on the floor of the House. Here's a link to the House of Commons' website describing in details the process under consideration:

    - In France, President Sarjozy also committed to implementing it, but nothing has happened so far.

  16. Comment

    @klingspoon.troy in english please. sounds like you're deconstructing an instruction manual!

    @acerym This is a great idea!