18 Sep 2014

Scottish referendum voting begins

6:36 pm on 18 September 2014

People in Scotland have begun voting on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation.

Pro-independence 'Yes' supporters gather ahead of the referendum.

Pro-independence 'Yes' supporters gather ahead of the referendum. Photo: AFP

Voters will answer "Yes" or "No" to the referendum question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

With 4,285,323 people - 97 percent of the electorate - registered to vote, a historically high turnout is expected.

Votes will be cast at 2,608 polling places across the country and the result is expected to be announced tomorrow (NZ time).

Ballot papers will be counted in each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas.

These will include votes cast from the 789,024 postal vote applications, which was the largest volume of registration for postal votes ever in Scotland.

Result declaration

After votes have been tallied, the counting officer in each area will communicate the result to the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly in Edinburgh.

With her approval they will then make a declaration of the result.

Scotland vote

Anti-independence supporters demonstrate in Glasgow. Photo: AFP

Once the results from all 32 local authority areas are known, Ms Pitcaithly will declare the result of the referendum at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh.

Because of the expected high turnout, counting officers have put measures in place to reduce the risk of queuing at polling stations.

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.

Helicopters and boats are being used to transport ballot boxes to counts in areas such as Argyll and Bute.

Elections Scotland said recounts will only be allowed at a local level on the basis of concerns about process, not the closeness of a result.

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