Politics

How many have signed the secession petitions? Here’s an easy way to check

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David Martosko
Executive Editor

Since Nov. 7, when a Louisiana suburbanite first asked the White House to let the Pelican State secede from the Union, Americans have watched with a mixture of curiosity and horror as more and more signatures have appeared on what are now more than 70 petitions from like-minded secessionists.

The Daily Caller reported Tuesday that 675,000 signatures had found their way to petitions on the Obama administration’s “We the People” Web page, but that number continue to grow, odometer-like, with each passing hour. (RELATED: White House “secede” petitions reach 675,000 signatures, 50-state participation)

And now a South Carolina programmer has collected all the data in one easy-to-read place.

Lance Ingle, 25, told TheDC that he’s neither a fan of the movement nor a detractor. “I don’t have an opinion either way. … I’m not a political guy,” he said Thursday via email. “I’m just a computer guy that is fascinated by numbers.”

Ingle, who said at least one online commentator has called him a “Millennial Super Nerd,” put together a data-crunching exercise that shows signature counts for the various petitions representing all 50 states.

The running total, at press time? A whopping 833,066 digital signatures. The page updates automatically every five minutes.

His data also show the fraction of each state’s population reflected in those numbers, along with each state’s median income and — for the truly nerdy — the number of federal tax dollars each state receives for each dollar it pays in taxes to Washington, D.C.

Until Thursday afternoon, Ingle was only showing numbers for the most popular petition from each state. The DC provided him, however, with a list of all the duplicate petitions. Georgia, for instance, has three competing proposals pending with the Obama administration for a license to secede. (RELATED: Top 10 ridiculous White House “We the People” petitions)

While Texas leads the pack with a single 109,000-vote effort, it’s not the most active state per capita. That honor goes to North Dakota, where 1.6 percent of the population is engaged in an effort that has produced 10,900 signatures. Texas’ much larger raw total represents just 0.43 percent of all Texans.

Nevada comes second. The state’s lone petition has fewer than 8,500 signers, but that represents 1.48 percent of the statewide population.

The ramifications of all the petition-jockeying, Ingle insisted, are mere political background radiation to him. ”I’m more interested in watching how links spread through social media sites and blogs … than I am the number of signatures,” he said.

Ingle’s page is easy to use and tracks exactly with TheDC’s manual — and far more labor-intensive — method of counting.

The numbers show ten states whose petitions have collected more than 25,000 signatures, the level at which the White House has promised a staffer will examine a petition and formulate a response. But that reflects three states — Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina — that can only crack the magic number by combining two or more petitions.

Petition organizers in the other seven states — Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina — have reached their goals through single petitions. The White House continues its silence, despite daily questions from TheDC, on the question of whether and when it will have a formal response to any of them.

Until then, Ingle’s Web counter will continue to inch upward. “I just love presenting data in intuitive manners,” he told TheDC. “I saw a need and decided to fill it.”

This story was updated after publication.

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