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Census changes congressional districts

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Census changes congressional districts

Census figures are used to calculate the state’s Congressional redistricting.

AP/Charlie Litchfield

Updated at 1:32 p.m. on 12/09/2010

Census figures due at the end of the month could mean one less seat for the Land of Lincoln in the U.S. House of Representatives. State-by-state population figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, by law, must be delivered to the president by month’s end. The information is used to determine the distribution of 435 seats in the U.S. House.

Bloomberg News and political consulting firm Election Data Services Inc. both expect Illinois to lose a seat based on their analyses of available data from the census and the Internal Revenue Service. The state is no stranger to the wrath of numbers: Illinois lost a congressional seat 10 years ago and lost two seats the decade before that.

The prospective loss would wean Illinois’ 19 members of Congress to 18, slightly diminishing the state’s voice in that chamber. WBEZ’s Sam Hudzik told “Eight Forty-Eight” host Alison Cuddy that redistricting, or a re-map, is a very political and contentious process.

Democrats could target one of the four congressional districts—the 8th, 11th, 14th and 17th—that turned Republican after the November mid-term election. Hudzik says his research suggests Democrats could try to swallow up Republican Don Manzullo’s seat in northwest Illinois’ 16th District.

The Democratic point-man on redistricting in the Senate, Kwame Raoul, says that members of Congress, like the public, should provide input, not a decision.

“One of the many things that came out of the hearings over the course of the last year and a half is that you just don’t want the process to be simply about self-preservation,” Raoul told Hudzik.

A spokesman for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan said the topic of who will take responsibility for the map has not yet been discussed.

But as more specific numbers roll out, you can bet Rand McNally won’t be the only map maker in town. The state constitution dictates that a lottery—yes, like pulling a number from a hat—determines which party charts the new boundaries in the event of a disagreement.

Hudzik will continue his coverage as Magellan-enthusiasts and vulnerable members of Congress await action from the Illinois House.

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