White House petition for ‘Taxation’ license plates is struggling

(DC DMV)

Update, 5:15 p.m.: Lo and behold, the White House has announced it will put the “Taxation Without Representation” plates on the presidential limo this weekend, where they will stay for the remainder of Barack Obama’s second term. That, of course, renders the web petition moot.

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The White House has been forced to respond to petitions calling on it to release the presidential beer recipe, allow eight states to secede and build a Death Star. But unless there’s a massive surge in interest in the next 80 hours or so, it’s unlikely that presidential advisers will have to publicly respond to requests that Barack Obama put “Taxation Without Representation” license plates on his limousine.

The petition, the brainchild of D.C. Vote, has thus far garnered fewer than 3,600 signatures toward the 25,000 required by midnight Friday. D.C. Vote this afternoon took to Twitter to beseech council members to sign on to “#ChangeThePlate.”

James Jones, D.C. Vote’s communications director, admits that it will be a tough task to collect an additional 20,000 online signatures but said he is maintaining hope. “I think we’re going to need some luck, a little more national coverage of what’s happening with the inauguration to make it,” he said. “We’re making a push. We’re not giving up.”

There is evidence the petition raised awareness of the District’s lack of congressional representation outside its borders. Only about one-fourth of those who have signed the petition listed a District address. Others came from such far-flung locales as Yuba City, Calif., Tillamook, Ore., Buda, Tex., and Byrdstown, Tenn.

Here’s a list of the top signer locales — note that the percentage figure listed represents the proportion of signers who listed an address, not of total signers:

petition Where the White House license plate petition signers are. (Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post)

Also, a look at the signers reveals that D.C. Vote was justified in focusing on local elected officials: A “David C” and a “Jack E” have signed, listing D.C. addresses, but no “Jim G,” “Mary C,” “Muriel B,” “Kenyan M,” “Tommy W,” “Yvette A,” “Marion B,” “Vincent O,” “Anita B,” “David G,” “Phil M” or “Vincent G” appeared on the list as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

But you can’t say the politicos haven’t done their part: Barring a miracle, hopes of putting the license plates on the limo in time for Monday’s inauguration festivities will lie solely in whatever case D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and member Mary M. Cheh made to White House officials in a private Friday meeting.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · January 15, 2013