The Trump administration will not allow election coverage by news outlets to include the names of election districts or state boundaries that are used to map state legislative and congressional districts, according to a memo obtained by Axios.
The move to block election coverage on state maps is a major setback for the White House and the news organizations it relies on for news coverage.
The White House has argued that the use or misuse of maps by news organizations is a “public-private partnership” in which local news organizations and election officials provide data about voting trends, but not the names or boundaries of voting districts.
The memo was sent by White House communications director Marc Short to news organizations in January, shortly after news outlets began reporting on a new report that the Trump White House had created a “federal commission to investigate voter fraud and abuse” that the White Board of Elections and the Department of Justice have rejected as unfounded.
The report has since been withdrawn from the White Senate website.
In the memo, Short wrote that he had been told by White Houses officials that the president’s office had “no intention” of using the commission’s findings to inform election coverage.
“I have been told that the commission has no intent to do so,” Short wrote.
“It is entirely possible that the report may be misconstrued as a call for action by the White Houses political opponents.”
The memo, sent to all White House news outlets, says the White houses response is “unacceptable” and that it is “premature to take action based on misinformation.”
The White House also has refused to accept a request for information from The Associated Press that was made by a local news organization.
The AP is a partner with The Associated General Contractors, which supplies election data to local news outlets.
The AP has not yet responded to a request to confirm whether the White house has any plans to block AP from using its data.
The Trump administration has said it has not used its commission’s report to determine whether the 2016 election was tainted by voter fraud, but a spokesperson for Trump’s election commission told Axios the Whitehouse had not responded to that request.
The Whitehouse has also repeatedly declined to let the AP and other news outlets use its data on voting trends and voting behavior to show the impact of voter ID laws on voters’ votes, or on polling places, in the upcoming midterms.
The Associated Press is working to build a database of voting patterns and election results across the country.
AP reporter Mark Berman contributed to this report.
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