90 per cent of old people vote: NGO

New Delhi: Contending that approximately 90 per cent of older people vote during elections, senior citizens` advocacy group Agewell Foundation has appealed to the Election Commission of India to separately record the number of votes polled by senior citizens.

"Once the total number of elderly voters is recorded it would be treated as the most authentic proof of older persons` importance in democratic process as well as their role in the success of democratic systems," Himanshu Nath, founder of the city-based NGO, told PTI.

The organisation has written a letter to the Election Commission urging them to pay heed to their suggestions. Presently, during voting, returning officers only record the total number of male and female voters without being specific to any age group.

Claiming that approximately 90 per cent of older persons come out of their houses and vote during elections, the foundation says senior citizens therefore constitute 24.34 per cent of actual voters during any elections.

As per the census report of 2011 there are around 98.47 million senior citizens in the country, comprising approximately 8.2 per cent of the total population.
"They make sure that they go out and vote during all elections even if they are keeping poor health. This is the only time when most of them get the opportunity to assert their rights in a democratic system. They are the most matured of voters," Nath says.

He argues that if the senior citizens are given more importance during polling, it will inspire political parties and our national leadership to focus on the needs and rights of old people,particularly in a fast changing demographic and socio-economic scenario of the country.

According to the study, older persons, as voters as well as elected representatives, have higher weightage in democratic process in comparison to weightage of any other age group.

"As as an elected representative, they acquire 247.9 points of weightage in comparison to only 54.7 points of other age groups.Whereas as voters, senior citizens register high weightage of 189.7 in comparison to 86.8 weight of other age groups eligible voters," the forum` report says.

Established in 1999 to work for the empowerment and welfare of senior citizens, Agewell Foundation works with a network of over 1500 NGOs across the country.