NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It’s a trend we see across the country. More people are leaving political parties and registering as ‘Decline to State.’

“We here in the Clerk’s Office have also seen that trend of folks either registering as a Decline to State or moving to a Decline to State over the years,” Deputy Bernalillo County Clerk Michelle Kavanaugh said.

Bernalillo County, the most populated county in the state, said they can’t speculate why that is. National studies, including one from the Pew Research Center, said in recent years, voters have been influenced by major political shifts. Those include the pandemic, movements surrounding racial injustice, and divisive presidential politics.

New Mexico’s Voter Registration Statistics go back as far as 1990. Then, only 32,000 people were registered as Decline to State. Now in 2022, that number has grown to more than 300,000. That’s close to a quarter of registered voters in the state. The most “Decline to State” voters came from Los Alamos, McKinley, Doña Ana, and Bernalillo counties.

“It’s really been ongoing for the last 10 years or so, we have been seeing the trend for a while,” Kavanaugh said.

It’s anyone’s guess whether we will continue to see voters ditching political parties. “It is possible that those will continue to increase. They may decrease for all we know. Unfortunately, without knowing the reasons behind that trend, it’s hard to really speculate what might happen in the future,” Kavanaugh said.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State, 22% of voters in the state register as Decline to State. Around 44% are registered as Democrats, and 31% are registered as Republicans as of October 2022.

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The Democratic Party of New Mexico released this statement:

Democrats believe that voting should be fair and accessible to all voters, regardless of party affiliation. We hope to appeal to and implement the policies that improve the lives of every New Mexican, not just Democrats. Voters see this, and that is why our candidates attract voters from the declined to state and Republican affiliations and we are successful during elections, year after year. We want voters to have their voices heard in every election, regardless of their party. Even if a voter has switched their registration to declined to state, the Democratic Party will still work tirelessly to reach these voters and fight to make sure they can participate in free, secure, and fair elections.”

KRQE reached out to the Republican Party of New Mexico, but we did not hear back.