NM voter registration up 5% since 2008 election

October 23, 2012 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voter registration in New Mexico has increased about 5 percent since the last presidential election, and independent voters have grown the fastest, state election officials reported Monday.

Nearly 1.3 million people are registered and eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 general election, according to the latest figures from the secretary of state’s office since registration closed earlier this month.

The number of New Mexicans who declined to affiliate with a political party when they registered to vote — so-called independents or [auth] 220;declined to state” as New Mexico election officials label them— has increased by 22 percent since Oct. 31, 2008.

“The independents have been on the rise for 30 years and it just continues,” said Brian Sanderoff, who runs a polling and research business in Albuquerque.

Independents account for 18 percent of voters, up from 15 percent in 2008 and 6 percent in 1984. Young people and newcomers to New Mexico are more likely to register as independents, according to Sanderoff.

Democratic President Barack Obama easily carried New Mexico four years ago, and Democrats continue to hold a big edge over Republicans in registration.

About 48 percent of New Mexico’s eligible voters are Democrats — down from 50 percent before the 2008 general election and from nearly 62 percent in 1984.

About 32 percent of voters are Republican, which is unchanged from four years ago or from 1984.

Other political parties, including Libertarians and Greens, account for 3 percent of voters in the state. That’s the same share of the electorate as four years ago, but up from less than 1 percent of voters in 1984.

The number of voters affiliated with minor parties has increased 14 percent since 2008.

Elections officials typically purge voter registration rolls after a general election. There were fewer people registered to vote in New Mexico in the 2010 gubernatorial general election than in 2008, for example.

As the presidential election has neared, political parties and other groups have pushed to get more people on the voter rolls.

Since Dec. 28, 2011, there’s been a 6 percent increase in voter registration — 4 percent for Democrats, 6 percent for Republicans, 14 percent for independents and 10 percent for other political parties.

Registration has grown about 75,000 since late last year and independents account for more than a third of that growth.

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