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Chicago Should Ask For A Census Recount

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Chicago Should Ask For A Census Recount

“It blows my mind that almost nobody is considering a recount of Chicago’s miserable census results,” Rich Miller wrote in Capitol Fax. “The city is down 200,000 people, but when you drill down, the numbers just don’t look right to me and to others I’ve consulted. Yet, the media is meekly accepting the figures as carved in stone or something.”

I know the census missed some Chicagoans, because I was a census enumerator last year, and I missed some. I remember one particular building, on Jonquil Terrace. The intercom was broke, so I called the management company, and asked whether someone could let me in.

“We don’t have time to send anyone over,” an irritated woman said. “Why don’t you just mail people a form?”

“We did that. We’re trying to find the people who didn’t send their forms back.”

“Well, has it occurred to you they might not want to participate?” she snapped.

Eventually, a tenant let me in, but I was unable to account for four addresses. Normally, landlords and management companies gave us the names of tenants we couldn’t find at home, but this woman flatly refused, no matter how many times we called. She wasn’t the only one. In general, the slummier the building, the less likely the landlords were to cooperate.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz has always insisted his 22nd Ward is undercounted, because of a high population of undocumented immigrants who are afraid to interact with the government. Munoz’s proof: all the wards are supposed to contain the same number of people, but his generates the most garbage in the city.

I’m sure it’s a similar story all over urban America. Big cities are harder to count than suburbs and small towns, because enumerators can’t just go door to door: they have to talk their way into apartment builders, past tenants and supers. And, cities have larger immigrant populations.

By all means, Chicago should ask for a recount. I was only one of a thousand enumerators. I’m sure we all missed somebody.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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