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#ElectionReform: New Rules for Symbol Loading Units Post Supreme Court Ruling!

The Election Commission of India (ECI) rolled out fresh guidelines on Wednesday for the management of Symbol Loading Units (SLUs), following a significant Supreme Court directive. This move aims to enhance the transparency and security of the voting process.

SLUs are crucial devices that load candidate names and symbols into the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units, which work in tandem with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to ensure vote accuracy. Previously, only the ballot units, control units, and VVPAT machines were secured post-election for 45 days. However, a Supreme Court verdict on April 26 has now mandated that SLUs also be preserved in secure strongrooms for the same duration alongside the EVMs.

The ruling came in response to various petitions that questioned the reliability of EVMs and demanded a return to traditional ballot papers or a full verification of VVPAT slips. Despite rejecting these petitions, the Court has taken a step towards bolstering the verification process.

Under the new protocols, state-level chief electoral officers will oversee the secure storage of SLUs, marking a departure from the previous practice where these units were handled by engineers from Bharat Electronics Limited or Electronics Corporation of India Limited before and after polling.

This update is part of ongoing efforts by the Election Commission to ensure the integrity of elections and address concerns about EVM tampering. The VVPAT system itself was introduced as a confidence-building measure, providing voters with a paper slip verification of their electronically cast vote.