WASHINGTON - From states across the country, Americans have filed petitions on the White House website seeking to secede from the union and form new state governments.
While most of the petitions come from states that supported Republican Mitt Romney in last week's election, a few swing states and even the deep-blue Northeast are represented.
Petitions have been filed for Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
A petition to let Arizona secede went up on the White House website Saturday, and by Tuesday it already had received more than half of the 25,000 signatures needed to trigger an official response. It has until Dec. 10 to reach its goal.
The petition was one of about 45 such petitions from states, some repeats, posted on the White House site in the past week.
White House spokesman Brandon Lepow confirmed that the administration will respond if the petition gets the required number of signatures, but he said he could not comment on the specific petition until then.
The White House would not release the identity of the man who started the Arizona petition, identified only as Nicholas M. of Gilbert. The White House website gives no more than a last initial and hometown for people who signed the petition, many of whom were from outside Arizona.
But a laughing Gregg Cawley said there should be no fear of another civil war anytime soon.
"One of the big differences between now and the mid-1800s … is the tremendous amount of federal funds states receive," said Cawley, a political science professor at the University of Wyoming who has written about the relationship between Western states and the federal government.
"Do they really want to give up all that money?" he said.
Cawley said people who make comments such as those in the petitions are more likely trying to "raise public visibility about their complaints" than actually succeed at secession.
Under the "We the People" program, launched last year, the White House will respond to any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days. It can be viewed at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov