Election Commission updates protocol on storage of symbol loading units of EVM, VVPAT after SC order

voting machine
File Photo: AFP.

New Delhi: The Election Commission has come out with a new protocol for handling and storage of symbol loading units following the directions of the Supreme Court which had ordered that the machines should be sealed and secured in a container and stored in a strongroom along with the EVMs at least for 45 days post the declaration of results.

In a statement on Wednesday, the poll authority said all state chief electoral officers have been directed to create the necessary infrastructure and provisions to implement the new protocols for handling and storage of the symbol loading units (SLUs).

"As mandated by the Supreme Court, the revised protocols are applicable in all cases of completion of the symbol loading process in the VVPATs undertaken on or after May 1, 2024," the Commission said.

The top court had on Friday last issued directions to seal and store symbol loading units. Also, it paved the way for the verification of micro-controllers embedded in electronic voting machines (EVMs) at the request of the candidates who stand second and third in the elections.

The SLU uploads the name and symbol of the candidates contesting for a particular seat on VVPAT or paper trail machines.
So far, the EVMs and VVPAT slips were stored for 45 days post results. In these 45 days following the declaration of an election result, people can file an election petition in the concerned high court challenging the election. The EVM and VVPAT slips can be called by the court while hearing the plea.

Before the Supreme Court order, the SLUs were handed over to local poll officials by the engineers of BEL or ECIL.
A day after the poll, the SLUs were returned to the engineers of the two public sector units that manufacture the ballot unit, the control unit and the VVPAT along with the SLUs. A few years ago, a feature was added which helped the candidates or their representatives see the symbol loading process on a TV monitor. The feature was added to enhance transparency. 

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