What time will the Scottish referendum results come in?

September 13, 2014 — 28 Comments

ie. Should I stay up all night/get up early/plan a party/book a day off work?

The path to victory...for someone. (Actually the path up Ben Vrackie near Pitlochry).

The path to victory…for someone. (Actually the path up Ben Vrackie near Pitlochry).

The Short Answer

It’s impossible to be accurate. Especially because it’s a first-of-its kind vote with more than four million registered voters.

But the best-guess is ‘around 7am’ on Friday 19th.

The Process

Polls open at 7am on Thursday 18th with voters answering the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Polls close at 10pm. Counting begins at 32 regional centres.

Ballots have to make it from the farthest flung bits of Scotland to these centres. For that reason helicopters are being used in some areas, and the WEATHER could actually slow the whole thing down. Really.

The 32 counting centres will report results through the night. Results will trickle in until we know the final result.

The Final Result

Here’s the important bit! The chief counting officer, Mary Pitcaithly, is the person who will tell the world whether it’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you’re bleary-eyed on Friday morning and she steps onto live TV listen carefully – she might be telling you the result.

IMPORTANTLY – she will announce who has won BEFORE the final result is known. She will do this as soon as it’s mathematically impossible for the other side to win.


Counting starts when the polls close at 10pm on Thursday 18th.

Early results could trickle in from around 1am.

Most of the results will pour in from 3 – 6am.

The result of the referendum (though not necessarily the ‘final’ count total) is expected around 7am.

So – if you’re a referendum die-harder with no job you’ll want to plan a party which runs from late evening on the Thursday through to Friday morning.

Most people with a keen interest might want to get to bed early and get up around 3am to track the results as they come in.

Or you could get up at 7am and hope the result hasn’t been announced yet.

The recount theory/problem

When the final result comes in, everyone’s agreed: that’s that. No recount. Even if there’s only one vote in it. The result sticks.

However, at each of the 32 counting stations, both the yes and no camp can request one recount.

And there’s a lot at stake. Obviously.

Ideally people will have a good reason to request a recount. And it’ll be up to the counting officers to allow them or not. But a good theory – explained to me by very reputable sources – is that recounts could be likely in just about all 32 regions. This vote is forever (supposedly…). And the losing side in each area has nothing to lose by requesting a recount.

Therefore – the timetable of the whole thing could be derailed by a long series of recounts.

So if you’re a REAL referendum die-harder, plan the party, stay up all night, and make sure you’ve booked the day off work on Friday in case of bad weather or lots of recounts.

Read more here: the official document explaining how it all works.

28 responses to What time will the Scottish referendum results come in?

  1. But…what about us morning people? I reckon a caffeine-fuelled party starting at 5:30 ought to do it.

  2. What happens if the vote is tied?

  3. Sounds like an early night needed with a 2am alarm call is the tactic.

  4. 07.00 am Fri 19.09.14 : RIP UK ?

  5. I know that path well from many years of fishing at Balnakeilly…..I now live “South of the Border” but desperately await a YES vote!

  6. @Charles – whatever happens, no.

    The Scots may choose to leave, or not – it doesn’t changed who we are.

    In the short term we will undoubtedly be worse off as a consequence of all the money spent moving government functions around. In the long term who knows? My guess for the UK is little difference.

    Personally I’ll be just as British on Friday as Wednesday. How could someone else’s choice change my identity? It’s mine!

  7. The UK will still exist even if Scotland isn’t part of it – (lots of people on a number of these sites seem to be struggling to understand that).

    So even after Scotland breaks away, it will be up to the rest of the UK to decide whether to continue as they are (called the UK) or whether to structure themselves differently (e.g. as a federation containing English regions, Wales and Northern Ireland). Clearly Scotland will have no influence on this.

  8. I think and hope it I will be a Yes vote, I will be voting Yes myself. The sky will not fall in, there may well be highs and there may well be lows, but life will go on, and I expect the former members of what is currently the UK to be great friends and allies in the future. We’re under an onslaught of propaganda at the moment from the Establishment, no doubt those south of the border may be getting some version of it as well – don’t believe the hype please, they’re desperate!
    Now, do I go to my work on Friday or not :-)

  9. Wish Scotland to stay in the UK. Otherwise for me, as for a frequent tourist, there will be no more serious countries on those isles. The UK can only be strong together, and it is obvious that the delusion of possible prosperity in independence for Scots just leads them into nothing. Everyone treat them now as a strong nation within the kingdom, and few will if they vote yes.

    The UK is the best union in the world. Keep it this way, guys. There’s no way back. Do not vote yes unless you are hundred percent sure it is worth it. Now you are all great, and you could loose it all. There’s no way back.

    God bless the UK.

  10. “And the losing side in each area has nothing to lose by requesting a recount.”

    I don’t see that. Winning or losing in one of the areas counts for nothing, other than local campaigners’ pride. Wouldn’t an area recount be equally likely to change the numbers (locally and therefore nationally) in either direction?

    • Exactamundo. There’s nothing to be lost in asking for a recount in a Parliamentary or Council election, because you can’t possibly make the result any worse. But in the referendum you can, and theoretically (perhaps more than theoretically if the result’s that close) you could actually hand overall victory to the other side.

  11. Onslaught of propaganda? Facts, you mean. Those promising you the earth havent done their sums, or told you that the upheaval over the next couple of years is going to detrimentally effect living standards everywhere in the BritishnIsles. Think carefully

  12. “…the losing side in each area has nothing to lose by requesting a recount”. I agree that requests for recounts are likely, in fact probably inevitable, but I disagree with your statement above. If it was 32 ‘seats’ with a first-past-the-post for each seat then a recount by the ‘losing’ side in each area is worthwhile – a free bet, you could say. However, as it is aggregated total number of votes across the country, and in the event of a recount it is presumably equally as likely to lead to less votes than more votes, then requesting recounts maybe isn’t wise. The side with least votes in each area would be wise to request a recount only if the result was well out of line with their exit polls or expectations for that area, or if they thought something was fishy.

  13. what a predicament you scots have put yourself in , on friday morning it seems that almost haf of you are to be dissapointed the other half will will be accused of cheating lying and bullying i just hope you can all forget those differences and make a success of what you have

  14. Whether you vote YES or NO, I hope you can all accept one anothers decisions.

    Scotland is a brilliant country and everyone around the world can see that you can be independent and stand on your own two feet – why can’t you?

  15. It seems very odd to allow for a result to be declared before all of the counts have finished. It’s not very likely to be mathematically finalised much earlier (unless a ballot box gets stuck on one of the islands), so what’s the rush?

  16. Thanks, this is helpful, although a former teacher would be unlikely to forgive me if I failed to point out that the count is an arithmetical exercise, not a mathematical one!

  17. I reckon about twenty pasted I could care less!

  18. Dear Tim,
    Won’t there be any exit polls?

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