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