Chicago Census Recount: Lawmakers Want New Tally As City Suffered Stark Population Losses

04/14/2011 05:24 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2011

With the 2010 Census showing Chicago suffering steep losses in population, some city leaders are moving to seek a recount, a move that could have ramifications for the city and for national politics as well.

The census showed that Chicago lost around 200,000 people in the years between 2000 and 2010, which will mean a significant drop in federal funding for the city.

"It translates into hundreds of millions of dollars over a ten-year period that will affect the city of Chicago," 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti said, according to WBEZ. "It will impact on everything we do - from roads, new construction. So if we can find the numbers, we ought to have a recount."

Forty-four other alderman signed on to a resolution urging the Census Bureau to re-figure the city's numbers. The city would have to pay for such a count, but even a small increase in population would make up for the cost in grant monies.

And Fioretti and others have reason to believe that the Census figures might be low.

The American Community Survey for 2009, an annual project that tracks population trends in years between the decennial census, pegged the population loss at only around 70,000 since the year 2000, although that is more of an estimate than a hard count.

Still, there's reason to believe that traditionally underrepresented communities were also undercounted in the census. Alderman Munoz in the city's 22nd Ward has long contended that his ward has a higher population than census counts suggest. As NBC Chicago reports, all wards are supposed to have equal population, but his generates far more garbage than any other area in the city, leading the progressive Munoz to believe that undocumented immigrants in his part of the city simply didn't get counted.

Rich Miller at the Capitol Fax blog pointed out that a recount could have more ramifications than just for municipal politics. Illinois was only around 75,000 people away from being allocated an additional seat in Congress. If more people were to turn up in Chicago, that seat would likely be pulled away from Minnesota, which barely made the cut for an extra congressman.

With the Illinois legislature and governor's office controlled by Democrats, that would almost certainly be another Democratic seat; Minnesota's governor is a Democrat, but its state legislature is Republican-controlled.

In 2000, Miller points out, Detroit asked for a recount and gained 50,000 people. So it's not impossible that a swing of 75,000 or more could happen in Chicago.

Mayor Daley, a longtime enemy of Fioretti, didn't seem too eager about a recount. "You know, they had a thorough - we had a really outreach program. I mean, we've done everything possible. That's over with," he said to WBEZ.

But the recount request wouldn't be initiated until June, by which time Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in as Chicago mayor. So far, no word from the Emanuel camp on the idea.