Today (September 18), over 90% of Scotland's electorate went to the poll to answer this question: Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes or no?
The polls opened at 7am (UTC) on Thursday and closed at 10pm, which is when the vote count started.
Results will begin to come through at 2am on Friday, September 19 but a national result will be known by "around breakfast time" according to the counting office.
Watch this space for more news tomrrow, and in the meantime catch up on the day's events, below.IrishCentral's live feed of the the referendum news:
Times are Scottish local (UTC).
Aaaaand that's it - the 2,608 polls throughout Scotland have officially closed, with early figures showing over 90% of the electorate turned out to vote.
So, what now? A long night ahead of ballot counting as voters eagerly and anxiously await the result.
American readers may be wondering what the exit polls are indicating. The answer is, there were no exit polls, making independence referendum result still anyone's best guess. Why weren't any exit polls taken? The Guardian's James Ball explains that it was either a case of no one believing the vote would actually be close enough to warrant the cost of an exit poll, or, more likely, that UK broadcasters feared the consequences of calling a vote this close and contentious.
BREAKING: 87% of possible postal votes have been cast in Glasgow with more still being validated. It's going to be a huge turnout. #indyref— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) September 18, 2014
According to the calculations of blogger Harry Enten, The UK would literally be a sunnier, warmer and drier place if Scotland becomes independent – statistically speaking.
Scotland makes up 32% of the UK’s landmass . So after crunching some numbers, the writer for political blog FiveThirtyEight concluded that without it, the UK would average 15 fewer rainy days per year and 88 more hours of sunshine, and the average temperature would be roughly two degrees higher.
Less than two hours to go until the polls close. Many stories are circulating of encounters with first-time voters, from 16-year-olds, voting for the first time after Scotland lowered its voting age in advance of the referendum, to elderly people casting a vote for the first time.
Polling station officials in Aberdeen say an 80-year-old woman came to vote for the first time in her life #indyref— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) September 18, 2014
And here's one experienced voter who was very sure about her decision:
Just checking in? Here's a summary of referendum day so far:
Earlier we looked at the potential ramifications of a "Yes" win and a "No" win. But what if the refferendum vote ends in a tie?
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason has explained the intricacies of a tied vote. Essentially, in order to win the referendum one side will need 50% of the votes and one additional vote to push the tide in their favor.
But the details of how a tie would be handled remain unclear. Hypothetically, if 80% of the population votes and all ballots are valid, that's 3,428,258 votes. An exact tie would be 1,714,129 "Yes" and "1,714,129" "No."
One historic precedent Mason points out is the 2007 West Lindsey District Council election tie between Conservative councillor Christopher Underwood-Frost and Liberal Democrat John Birkenshaw.
It was decided by a coin toss, in favor of Underwood-Frost.
While a re-count in the event of a tie does not seem likely since all votes are counted locally, the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement, which laid out plans for the referendum does state that the vote should be "a decisive epression of the views of people in Scotlandand a result everyone will respect," making a coin toss highly unlikely.
In case anyone's wondering, Nessie appears to be on the "Yes" side:
Reports from Glasgow and Shetland are predicting an 80% turnout by 10pm.
An astounding 97% of Scotland's electorate registered to vote in the independence referendum. Will the turnout make history? There's a chance it may break Scotland's record, 80.9% in the 1950 UK general election, but the international record currently held by New Zealand - 97.6% in the 1946 general election - still surpasses the percentage of Scotland's electorate registered.
Given the fact that the independence referendum has the population divided in the polls, there was concern that voting day would see an increase in violent incidents. So far, there have been three reported incidents.
An 80-year-old "Yes" campaigner was attacked on Edinburgh's Royal Mile by a woman who was "outraged at his "Yes" placard," Edinburgh News reports.
At a polling station in Clydebank, a 44-year-old man, believed to be a "Yes" voter, was arrested for allegedly assaulting a councilor in the Scottish Labor Party.
In Glasgow, a woman protesting with a group of "No" supporters was arrested after kicking a woman protesting with the "Yes" side. The Liverpool Echo has reported that the arrested woman is a former Merseyside councilor named Marie Rimmer.
Earlier the Chairman of the Scottish Police Association, Brian Dochery, had dismissed claims that voting day would see increased violence. "Scotland's citizens are overwhelmingly law abiding and tolerant and it is preposterous to imply that by placing a cross in a box, our citizens will suddenly abandon the personal virtues and values held dear to them all," he said.
Four hours to go until the polls close. Let's hope it doesn't come to this:
Good question! pic.twitter.com/RsQzZSCUc5— TheLADBible (@TheLadBible) September 18, 2014
While there are certainly much more important things at stake in the independence referendum, many people (well, Scotch drinkers mostly) are wondering what it would mean for Scotland's famous whisky.
Scotch whisky can only be made in Scotland. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (which in advance of the referendum outlined the potential imacts), the industry employs 35,000. As Vox has pointed out, were Scotland already independent, whisky would actually be its third-largest export, following oil and banking. Furthermore, if the Yes vote succeeds and the banking industry takes a hit, scotch could stand to become Scotland's second-largest industry.
However, because of the UK and EU regulations the scotch industry depends on for its tax, export and production security, the general consensus in the industry is that "the potential risks outweigh the advantages."
It seems the British financial market are laying bets that Scotland will vote "No", pushing the pound to a two-year peak against the euro and Scotland-based stocks higher.
For the past two weeks as the "Yes" campaign gathered strength there have been worries that Scotland winning its independence would send shock waves through Britain's political and financial system.
Tonight will see an all-night vigil kept in trading rooms before the results are known on Friday morning.
Here the BBC explains the economic worries surrounding an independent Scotland:
If the "Yes" campaign wins and Scotland become independent it could mean the end to the UK's iconic flag, the Union flag, commonly known as the Union Jack.
Within days of the vote England maybe constitutionally obliged to remove the blue parts of the flag, representing Scotland. What the new flag might look like no one knows.
Although some maintain that the Union Jack could remains Lord West, the deputy chairman of the parliamentary flags and heraldry committee, said last week that it was "nonsense" to imagine the St Andrew's blue could remain.
This could also have wide-ranging impacts for countries around the world that have the Union Jack incorporated into their flags, many of which have been debating changes.
Bloomberg reports live from the Royal Mile, in Edinburgh:
The "Yes" side has received well wishes from even farther afield. The short film below was made by Next Media Animation, based in Taiwan, which continues to seek its independence from China.
The whole world is watching Scotland today, but independence activists from Catalan and Wales have taken a special interest, given what the independence referendum might mean for their own people.
Members of Plaid Cymru are in Scotland to show their support on polling day:
And Buzzfeed reports that over 300 Catalns have traveled to Scotland as well:
One of the Catalan activists, Lluis Rivera, told Buzfeed "If you open one door, you will find an entrance for many more nations."
If hashtags are any indication, numbers are close with the No vote slightly in the lead:
Curious to know how the referendum vote is playing out on social media? Trendsmap has aggregated this great map of posts across the UK:
Excitement and anger on the ground in Scotland as voters go to the polls.
Belfast Telegraph reporter Adrian Rutherford, in Edinburgh, said "What struck me is the excitement among people here - I knew it would be big, but it's hard to comprehend just how important this is for people.
"There's a great feeling, and we have seen that in Edinburgh - but at the same time there's a great deal of anger though, partly from the Yes side. Some are more friendly than others."
With 80 percent of the electorate expected to turn out Scotland is really getting busy voting.
Rutherford said "Everyone here realizes just how big this is, and how much will change," our reporter said.
"This is much closer - the polls have significantly narrowed. It's amazing, in Edinburgh for example, you hear the Yes crowd everywhere, but not the No.
"The No camp is very much a significant silent majority."
He also pointed out that it's not just Northern Ireland who are watching this referendum intently.
All the world's eyes are on Scotland.
"There is a huge media interest here in Scotland - people from right across the world," he said.
"Aside from the US, China and Europe - one journalist from Sao Paulo said there is big interest there due to their own relationship with Brazil
"We have been talking about how could this could effect Northern Ireland - but it's much wider than that.
"It could have an impact right around the world and until you are here it's hard to fathom that."
Read more: A day of huge political significance for Scotland, Ireland and the world
Campaigners from both camps - Alistair Darling, Alex Salmond, Gordon Brown and Nicola Sturgeon - have cast their votes.12:45pm:
Interesting photoshopping by Business Week:
John Curtice, elections expert and professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, predicts:
Stepehen Tall, Editor of the Liberal Democrat Voice, source of news for Lib Dems and those interested in Liberal politics, posts:
Another 53% No / 47% Yes #indyref poll. If there's an 85% turn-out, this would imply a final result of No = 1.9m, Yes = 1.7m.— Stephen Tall (@stephentall) September 18, 2014
This week John Oliver, host of the HBO show "Last Week Tonight", spoke about the referendum at length. As always his monologue was close to the bone and hilarious but been warned there is some strong language.
This referendum is the first time that 16 and 17 year olds will have the opportunity to vote.Today 110,000 16 and 17-year-olds are among the 4.2 million Scottish voters taking part after the age of eligibility was lowered from 18.
Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander has predicted the “quiet majority” vote will see the "No" vote be successful.
The Liberal Democrat memeber of parliament for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey said "I hope and expect that this Thursday the quiet majority will be heard in the Highlands and across the country and that we will vote No for a stronger Scotland.
“Why take the risk to jobs and pensions of separation, when we can have a stronger Scotland with better, faster, safer change with No?”
Here's NBC's latest news report on the campaign:
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), has said he believes the “Yes” campaigners could cause riots.
He accused some pro-independence campaigners of intimidating the pro-Union side.
We are also seeing the sort of abhorrent behaviour that could lead to rioting. It's a sorry situation when politics plunges to these depths.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 17, 2014
It is surely Alex Salmond's job to publicly demand calm and law abiding behaviour to ensure a free and fair referendum tomorrow.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 17, 2014
Scottish fears of a political and financial uncertainty, should the “Yes” vote be victorious, is prompting locals to invest in gold.
Jon Barker, a gold dealer in Newry, County Down, says he had noted a bump in Scottish customers investing their cash in gold.
He said “I've definitely noticed an increase in recent weeks – gold has always been a bit of a fear trade.
"In times of uncertainty, people end up turning towards it."
Earlier this weekend, banking giant UBS warned that a successful “Yes” vote would risk the country falling into an economic slump.
Source: Belfast Telegraph.
The Hills Have Ayes, an environmental activist group who are in favor of the "Yes" vote posted this video:
Seen our video yet? http://t.co/2xFzgH0wKA— The Hills Have Ayes (@HillsHaveAyes) September 16, 2014
The final poll of Scottish voters, carried out Wednesday evening, predicted a narrow victory for the “No” camp. Pollsters Survation found that 53 percent of Scots may reject independence, 43 percent plan to vote “Yes.”
These resulted, gathered from 1266 phone interviews, give a wider victory for the “No” camp than other recent polls.
Scottish born tennis champion Andy Murray has shown his support for the "Yes" vote. On Wednesday night he tweeted:
On the day of voting his brother tweeted:
Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) September 18, 2014
Love UK..love the Royals..but it's time for Scotland to stand on its own 2 feet and control their own destiny.— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) September 18, 2014
Nick Sutton from BBC Radio 4 shares a selection of UK newspaper front covers.
Polls have opened across Scotland and 4.2 million voters are flooding into the 2,600 polling places across Scotland to vote. With 97 percent of the electorate eligible to vote the turnout is expect to be about 80 percent.
According to official polls the vote could go either way. However, “Yes” campaigners have been working hard in the final hours campaigning for an independent Scotland.
Sadly some are going a little too far:
What’s the Scottish referendum all about
First things first: what is this historic referendum all about?
In 2011 the Scottish National Party, whose main goal is Scottish independence, won the parliamentary election with a majority. Since then they have been working towards this referendum.
The Scottish government, led by First Minister Alex Salmond, believes that the 307-year-old union of the United Kingdom no longer serves a purpose for Scotland. They believe that Scotland, along with its wealth gained through its oil and gas, could be a very wealthy country.
Salmond says it is time for Scotland to shake the “shackles” of the Westminster, London-based, United Kingdom government.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, along with others on the “no” side of the debate, says Britain is one of the world’s most successful social and political unions.
The North Sea oil and gas reserves are at the center of Salmond’s government’s case for a viable independent Scotland. Salmond says that saving one-tenth of the annual earnings from this $1.6 billion (£1bn) would see Scotland accrue a fund similar to that of Norway. This could mean creating a wealth of $49billion (£30bn) in 30 years.
Cameron has pointed out that thus far the North Sea has been a British success story but that the oil and gas is becoming harder to recover. The “no” side argues that Scotland is pinning their hopes on something that is running out.
The Scottish government wants to keep the Great British Pound, to stay in line with the rest of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland). However, the UK parties (Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) are against this.
After the results
If the “Yes” vote is victorious, following a major party in Scotland, there will be huge negotiations with the United Kingdom. By March 2016 Salmond plans to celebrate “Independence Day” by announcing the first elections to an independent parliament to be held in May 2016. Before that, however, issues such Scotland’s share of the national debt will have to be considered.
If the “No” vote wins then the UK government has vowed to devolve more powers to the current Scottish parliament.
Follow IrishCentral’s coverage on the Scottish independence referendum here:
Some facts and figures about Scotland
Population (2011): 5,295,400
Biggest city: Glasgow
Other cities: Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth, and Stirling.
Area: 78,772 square kilometers (30,414 square miles)
Borders: England (154 kilometers/96 miles)
World heritage sites: the Antonine Wall, the Roman empire's northernmost frontier; the Orkney Islands' neolithic monuments; New Lanark cotton mill village; the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh; the abandoned island of St Kilda.
Main ethnic groups: According to the 2011 census: White Scottish (84 percent); White other British (7.9 percent); Other White (1.9 percent); White Polish (1.2 percent); White Irish (1.0 percent); Pakistani (0.9 percent); Black or Caribbean Scottish (0.12 percent)
Main religions: Church of Scotland (32.4 percent); Roman Catholic (15.9 percent); other Christian (5.5 percent); Islam (1.4 percent); Hinduism (0.3 percent).
Recognized languages: English, Gaelic (spoken by 1.1 percent), Scots.
Key historic dates for Scotland:
122: Romans construct Hadrian's Wall.
858: Death of Kenneth MacAlpin, king of the Picts and founder of the dynasty that ruled Scots for centuries to come.
1296-1357: Wars of Independence with England.
1314: King Robert the Bruce defeats the English forces at Bannockburn, establishing de facto independence.
1560: Protestant reformation.
1603: Union of the Crowns. King James VI of Scotland, from the House of Stuart, becomes James I of England too.
1707: Acts of Union: England and Scotland merge to form Kingdom of Great Britain with one crown and one parliament.
1999: Reconstituted Scottish Parliament meets for first time, following referendum.
2014: Referendum on Scottish independence.