EDINBURGH – People in Scotland are voting on whether the country should stay in the United Kingdom or become an independent nation.
Voters are answering “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
With 4,285,323 people –– 97 per cent of the electorate –– registered to vote, it is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.
Votes would be cast at 5,579 polling stations until 10 p.m. today. The result is expected tomorrow morning.
Strict rules mean the BBC –– in common with other broadcasters –– would not be allowed to report details of campaigning until after the polls close.
A number of councils around the country said polling stations were busy, with some seeing queues both ahead of the polls opening and throughout the morning.
Stirling Council area counting officer Bob Jack said: “There has been a steady stream of voters and we have been very busy.”
In East Renfrewshire, there were queues before the polls opened this morning and a steady stream since, a council spokeswoman said. Some voters had been kissing their ballots, she added.
Police Scotland have confirmed that a 67-year-old woman was arrested and charged in connection with an alleged assault on a female following an incident at Shettleston Community Centre, a polling place in Amulree Street, Glasgow around 1 p.m. BST.
The woman is believed to come from Merseyside. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
Earlier, a man was arrested outside a polling station in Clydebank after an alleged assault. Police Scotland said the man was detained on Faifley Road at 8:30 a.m.
Once the polls were closed, ballot papers would be counted in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.
These would include votes cast from the 789,024 postal vote applications, which was the largest volume of registration for postal votes ever in Scotland.
After votes have been tallied, the counting officer in each area communicates the result to the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly in Edinburgh.
With her approval they then make a declaration of the result.
Once the results from all 32 local authority areas are known, Pitcaithly will declare the result of the referendum at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh.
Pitcaithly has said she will announce the result at “breakfast time” tomorrow.
The result is most likely to be between 6:30 a.m. and 07:30 a.m., according to Elections Scotland.
That is because the final Scottish declarations in the 2010 United Kingdom parliamentary elections and the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections declaration were made at those times respectively.However, running totals – which can be made from the first declaration onwards –– may indicate a result earlier in the morning.
Because the polling stations are expected to be so busy, counting officers have put measures in place to reduce the risk of queuing. The remote nature of some Scottish regions also means bad weather could delay the receipt of ballot boxes at counting centres, in turn delaying the national result.
The Western Isles declaration would be delayed after Stornoway Airport closed owing to fog. Helicopters and boats are being used to transport ballot boxes to counts in areas such as Argyll and Bute.
Elections Scotland said recounts would only be allowed at a local level on the basis of concerns about process, not the closeness of a result.