ORLANDO, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards (search) pledged from the pulpit of a black church on Sunday that the party will work hard to head off the kind of Florida ballot irregularities that Democrats assert gave the White House to George W. Bush.
"We will get voters registered. We will get voters mobilized. We will get voters to the polls," the North Carolina senator told the congregation of St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church (search).
A scant 537 votes delivered Florida and the presidency to Bush after a protracted legal battle resolved by the Supreme Court.
The race seems as close this year as then, and both parties have been working hard to prevail and win the state's 27 electoral votes.
"The eyes of the world will be on Florida again this year," said AME Church Bishop McKinley Young in introducing Edwards.
In five days of solo campaigning, Edwards had been reaching out to minorities -- Hispanics in Southern California, blacks here -- as well as attending a round of fund-raisers in an effort to raise as much last-minute money as possible before the Democratic National Convention (search) next week.
Blacks, who as a group voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Al Gore (search) in 2000, say they were disproportionately affected by the 2000 election abuses, including the failure to count thousands of votes, many of them in black neighborhoods.
"We will get voters to the polls. We're going to make sure that all those voters that go to the polls and cast their votes, that their votes are counted this time," Edwards said to applause and shouts of approval from about 700 parishioners.
Edwards later attended fund-raisers here and in Hollywood, Fla. He was flying later Sunday to his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday night.