- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Voter registration has increased nearly 7 percent since New Mexico’s last primary election, but a growing share of the electorate can’t cast ballots in primary contests.

Independents - those unaffiliated with a political party - are the fastest-growing part of the electorate, according to the latest voter registration data from the secretary of state’s office. They account for about one in five voters.

More young voters - those 18 to 24 years old - are registered as independents than either as Democrats or Republicans, according to Brian Sanderoff, an Albuquerque pollster whose firm has been analyzing the state’s registration figures.

“It just shows that the young people are deserting both parties,” Sanderoff said in a recent interview. “As age increases, the likelihood to be registered as an independent decreases.”

Nearly 1.3 million New Mexicans are registered to vote. That’s an increase of 6.6 percent since the 2012 primary election, when voters last went to the polls to decide statewide races. There has been very little change in registration so far this year, only a 0.2 percent increase since January.

There are 996,901 Democratic and Republican voters, an increase of 4 percent since May 2012. Only Democrats and Republicans can vote in the June 3 primary contests.

There was a 17 percent increase in independents in the last two years. Those who “decline to state” a party affiliation - what is considered an independent voter in New Mexico - account for 19 percent of registered voters, up from 17 percent in 2012 and 15 percent four years ago, according to the secretary of state’s office.

About 47 percent of voters are registered Democrats, down from 48 percent two years ago and 50 percent in 2010. Republicans account for 31 percent of New Mexico’s voters, down from 32 percent in the 2012 and 2010 primary elections.

Other parties, including the Green, Libertarian and Independent American parties, represent 3 percent of New Mexico’s registration. That’s unchanged since 2010.

New Mexico mirrors a national trend of growing numbers of independent voters.

“It’s going to continue unless something major changes in our nation’s political climate,” said Sanderoff.


Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

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