(CNSNews.com) - A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday to delay California's Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election in a decision one candidate said was "simply a distraction."
However, the court withheld ordering the immediate implementation of its ruling, allowing a week for appeals to the entire circuit court or even the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judges Richard Paez, Harry Pregerson and Sidney Thomas chose to postpone the recall because six significant counties would use outdated punch-card ballots, potentially disenfranchising poor and minority voters.
These urban counties include the state's most populous region, Los Angeles, as well as Mendocino, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara and Solano, representing 44 percent of California's registered voters.
The machines that would be used to tabulate the votes are the same type that were involved in the "hanging chads" controversy in Florida during the presidential election of 2000.
The ruling was the last of about a dozen legal challenges to delay or prevent the attempt to unseat Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who was campaigning with former President Bill Clinton when the decision was announced.
Reacting quickly, the Davis camp issued the following statement: "The governor has always valued the importance of voter rights and will continue to campaign vigorously."
"This recall has been like a roller coaster. There are more surprises than you can possibly imagine," Davis said while appearing with Clinton at a school being named after the former president. "I'll continue to make my case to the people that a recall is not good for them."
Republican candidates were much more critical of the ruling.
State Sen. Tom McClintock said that Monday's decision is "simply a distraction and will have no bearing on this election."
Noting that the 9th Circuit is the same court that banned the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, McClintock said: "I have every confidence that in a short time, the U.S. Supreme Court will allow this election to go forward."
McClintock also claimed that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals "has become a national laughingstock. This election is called for by the Constitution and demanded by the people of California."
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on the California secretary of state to immediately appeal the decision. "I will continue to vigorously campaign for governor," the GOP candidate stated. "The people have spoken, and their word should - and will - prevail."
Schwarzenegger learned about the decision after taping an interview in Chicago for The Oprah Winfrey Show with his wife, Maria Shriver.
During his appearance, Schwarzenegger was asked about such prominent national Democrats as Bill Clinton coming to the state to support Davis. The actor responded with questions of his own: "Where have they been the last five years, as California has been declining? Where have they been, all these candidates?
"The whole Democratic Party can come out there because it is between me and the people," Schwarzenegger continued. "The people of California are suffering right now. Businesses are leaving California. Jobs are leaving California. People are unhappy ...All of those kinds of things are tearing the state down. And the leadership is gone in California, and that's what I want to bring."
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