A panel of federal judges said Friday it would not postpone California’s gubernatorial recall vote, removing one of the last legal barriers to the Oct. 7 election.

The decision came the morning after the U.S. Justice Department made a formal determination that Monterey County’s hurriedly assembled balloting plans for the election to unseat Gov. Gray Davis did not constitute a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez said Friday that federal officials had signed off on Monterey County’s recall arrangements.

The three federal judges last week had delayed their decision on the pair of lawsuits filed by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in anticipation of guidance from the Justice Department.

Another legal challenge to the recall election is still pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That lawsuit, filed by the ACLU, challenges the use of punch-card ballots in six counties. A hearing is scheduled Sept. 11.

Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Arnold Schwarzenegger flexed Hollywood muscle at a voter registration rally Thursday, appearing unfazed by criticism about his command of the issues following his no-show at the recall campaign’s first debate.

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