At last: Scotland goes to the polls

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In less than 24 hours we will know whether or not Scotland has chosen to leave the union.

Polls have opened across the country with 97% of all potential voters having registered to vote. The turnout is expected to be lower but considerably higher than any recent elections, perhaps in the high eighties.

Currently it is unclear which side will prevail. Last week a poll put the Yes campaign in the lead for the first time, giving them a moral boost, however, subsequent polls have mostly shown Better Together in the lead. All recent polls have been close, showing just how tight today’s race is, with 52% NO - 48% YES being a common outcome. There will be no exit poll.

According to the Press Association Scotland is expected to get the first results in at 02:00 early on Friday morning, with the likes of North Lanarkshire, Moray, Perth & Kinross, and Inverclyde being among the first to declare.

The results for Dundee and Stirling are expected at 03:00, but we will not know the big picture until later when the biggest cities decare.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are expected to declare their results at 05:00 which, particularly due to Glasgow’s large population, will probably decide the vote.

The last result expected in is for Aberdeen at 06:00. But if the result is as close as many polls are suggesting then it is possible that the full result will not be known until the granite city declares its tally.

Whatever happens, there will be lots of tired politicians discussing the results - and their meanings - well into the night.

If Scotland votes ‘yes’ then there will be years and months of discussions to decide the exact terms of the country’s separation. Additionally, if Ed Miliband wins the 2015 general election then he could be a ‘lame duck’ until Scotland secedes if his majority is reliant on Scottish seats.

Furthermore, nationalists in Wales will be on the edge of their seats, hoping that their turn is next.

But if Scotland votes ‘no’ there will also be discussions over how Scotland’s new powers will be given and what other types of devolution the rest of the UK will get. Parliament could even get recalled early to discuss a new constitutional settlement.

Whatever happens tonight and in the early hours of tomorrow, the UK is set to be renewed and change - perhaps beyond recognition.

As someone staying up all night to watch the results - it’s going to be a long one!

The full list of declaration times can be found here: http://election.pressassociation.com/Declaration_times/scotland_ref_2014_by_time.php