In California these days, decline-to-state doesn’t mean decline to play.

The fastest-growing party in the state in recent years is made up of those voters who don’t want to be Democrats or Republicans. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be players in the political system.

We’re not talking the elected side of politics. In the Capitol, it’s the Democrats and the small but plucky band of GOP officeholders who fill every seat of the Assembly and the state Senate and there’s no indication that someone without a D or an R after their name is going to get even a sniff of a statewide office anytime soon.

And while local races – and a few statewide posts — may be officially listed as non-partisan, it likely doesn’t surprise many voters that San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are registered Democrats or that Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is a Republican.

But on the appointed side, it’s a different story and one that shows just how entrenched independent voters are becoming in the state.

Take, for example, the results of this completely unscientific survey.

So far in August, Gov. Jerry Brown has announced 52 appointments to everything from $100,000-plus jobs in his administration to spots on boards and commissions that don’t even pay bus fare. According to the governor’s reports, 31 of those jobs, or 60 percent, have gone to Democrats, seven of them, or 13 percent, to Republicans and 14, or 27 percent, to residents registered as decline-to-state voters.

Sure, a number of those jobs are professional-level posts that went to career government workers, without regard – or at least not too much regard – to partisanship.

But a bunch of those appointments were to the type of boards and commissions that provide professional and local prestige, even if they don’t come with a paycheck attached. An appointment to the California Water Commission, the state Medical Board or even a county fair commission is a political plum with no shortage of eager applicants.

And while it would be nice to believe there’s a statewide search to fill every one of these seats with the absolute best person available and that the new member of, say, the California Acupuncture Board is shocked, that the governor would honor him by considering him for the post, that’s not the way it happens.

Any governor wants competent appointees, but the dirty little secret is that serving on a county fair board, or plenty of other state commissions for that matter, doesn’t often resemble brain surgery.

Instead, people typically apply for those jobs, pitch themselves to someone on the governor’s appointment staff, and hit up their friends, relatives and political allies to put in a good word for them.

In short, it’s a political process, with all the good and not so good that entails.

But the results of that process, as shown in Brown’s appointments, provide a hint that folks who don’t come with the backing of one of the two major parties are at least part of that political game.

Part of the change is that there are a lot more decline-to-state voters to choose from. In 1999, 47 percent of California’s registered voters were Democrats, 35 percent were Republicans and 13 percent decline to state.

Last February, the registration rolls were 44 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican and 21 percent decline to state. The DTS percentage has been rising steadily, especially among young voters, and political analysts have no idea where or when it’s going to stop.

For years, there’s been a concern that decline-to-state voters were opting out of the political process, hanging onto their registration only to vote occasionally for president, governor or an especially entertaining ballot measure.

But as the numbers grow and the DTS voters become an increasingly important part of the electorate, it’s becoming clear that many of those independent voters were rejecting the parties, not the politics.

They’re players and they want to keep playing.

John Wildermuth is a longtime writer on California politics.