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Federal review to keep Mississippi voter ID law on hold for election

By Emily Le Coz

TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - Mississippi's controversial new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls will not be in effect for the November general election while federal officials review whether the measure is discriminatory, the state said on Tuesday.

It was the second setback for voter ID laws in a single day, coming on the heels of a judge in Pennsylvania ordering officials there to delay implementing a photo ID requirement until after the November 6 election.

Voters in Mississippi approved a voter ID ballot initiative by a wide margin last November.

But as part of the implementation, the state provided insufficient evidence for the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether the new law would violate the Voting Rights Act, the agency's voting section chief T. Christian Herren Jr. said in a letter on Monday.

The Justice Department requested several additional documents from the state, including any data supporting the state's position that the law won't hinder minority voting or that, if it does, how proposed changes in the law or administrative rules and regulations would remedy that.

Federal officials also want Mississippi to provide a list of all registered voters by name, race, birth date, address, Social Security number and driver's license or ID number.

Some of the information is readily available, but some will take more time to obtain, the state Attorney General's Office said on Tuesday.

"All the DOJ is saying in this response is that they need more details of the state's plan in order to make a determination," Attorney General Jim Hood said in a statement.

"What this means is that the voter ID requirement will not be in place before the November election," Hood said. "You will not be required to show ID at the poll until DOJ interposes no objections or pre-clears Mississippi's voter ID bill."

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said he did not expect the Justice Department to find that the voter ID law had any discriminatory purpose or effect.

"We believe the process of implementation authorized by the Mississippi Legislature and the rules and regulations will show no discrimination against any citizen of Mississippi," he said in a statement.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)

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