New Bill Proposes Online Petitions For NYC

September 11, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

A NYC councilman has proposed an online governmental petition service for residents. Modeled on the White House’s popular online petitions website We The People, the service would require a reply from the city if a petition reached a predetermined number of signatures. “Not everyone can go to a public hearing,” said the bill’s author James Vacca. “This would be a way for people to register their views collectively.”

Under his bill, the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications would determine the threshold number of electronic signatures that would prompt a response. The department would also be asked to establish the website, creating a system that “allows city agencies or public authorities to post public responses” to the petitions.

Not everyone agrees that digital petitions are a great idea for the city. Citizens Union executive director Dick Dadey told the New York Times he’s worried that petitions could be manipulated to show a “a preordained outcome directed by public officials.” “I’m just uncomfortable with governments organizing citizens,” he said. “Citizens should be organizing themselves.” (Photo: Reddit)