Jerry Nadler in 2004: ‘Paper ballots are extremely susceptible to fraud’

If President Trump is seeking a high-ranking Democrat to side with him against mail-in election ballots – in a bid to build bipartisan opposition to the idea in Congress -- he could try contacting U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler.

Although Nadler, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, helped lead the impeachment fight against Trump last year, a C-SPAN video clip from 2004 shows the New Yorker speaking out strongly against paper-based ballots during a Capitol Hill hearing.

At the hearing -- in which lawmakers examined perceived voting problems in an Ohio election -- a member of the public spoke in support of paper ballots, later citing research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that she said showed hand-counted paper ballots to be “among the most reliable” voting methods.

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Nadler didn’t agree.

“Paper ballots are extremely susceptible to fraud,” he said. “And at least with the old clunky voting machines that we have in New York, the deliberate fraud is way down compared to paper.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is seen during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 8, 2019. (Associated Press)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is seen during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 8, 2019. (Associated Press)

“When the machines break down, they vote on paper – they’ve had real problems,” he added.

Nadler didn’t have a suggestion for an absolutely reliable voting method, but said, “There’s gotta be a way of getting the best of our methodologies.”

The woman from the audience continued her support of paper ballots.

“At least if there’s a miscount you can discover it,” she said. “You can’t discover miscounts with these machines.”

Nadler then pitched “optical scan with paper” as a compromise solution – meaning paper ballots would be scanned electronically to count the votes. But he wasn’t ready to endorse a hand-counted paper-based system.

“I want a paper trail, I want paper somewhere,” Nadler said. “But pure paper with no machines? I can show you experience which would make your head spin.”

Earlier this month, Nadler accused President Trump of opposing mail-in ballots because he was worried that voters "won't vote for you."

In a Tuesday morning Twitter message, President Trump asserted that mail-in ballots would be “substantially fraudulent” if used for the 2020 presidential election.

The president’s argument appeared in line with that of a 2005 bipartisan report prepared by a federal election reform panel chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.

“Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud,” the report concluded.

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But a mail-in plan has been suggested for November in a $3.6 billion proposal this month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom have also supported mail-in voting for some remaining state primary elections.

Fox News' Gregg Re contributed to this story.