The last major debate happened between Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling last night and commentators where flying with debates about who won (yes, some poor buggars thought Darling did win). Yet, very few people seem to know just what exactly the process for the count will be and providing the public service that we do here on Slugger, I thought I would put up the guide as published by the Electoral Commission for the how the count will take place.
How many eligible voters?
At the moment there are 4,063,206 people registered to vote in Scotland. Should the turnout be around the predicted 80% that means that over 3.2 million Scots should be casting their verdict on whether their nation should leave the United Kingdom?
Note-people still have until 2nd of September to register for the referendum, so this figure will change, but it gives you an idea of the size of the electorate. It is also useful to keep in mind that the voting age in this referendum has been lowered to 16.
Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm. If there is a high turnout and people are still waiting as polls close it has been determined that any voter who arrives at the polling station before 10pm shall be able to cast their ballot. If you think back to the 2010 general election many people couldn’t vote due to long lines and the returning officers being unable to keep the polls open. That will not happen in this referendum count.
You better be a night owl! Counting begins immediately after polls close in 32 locations throughout Scotland. Local totals will be collated in Edinburgh and announced there, along with the overall result. Unless it is close, we should be able to project a winner within a few hours of counting.
A final result will be declared by the Chief Counting Officer in Edinburgh.
Can the result be challenged?
Yes, if either side wants to challenge the result they can do so via a judicial review, but this must be done within six weeks of the result being formally announced.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs