Scotland’s referendum count: When to expect what

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Counting in Scotland’s independence referendum will take place on Thursday night, with results from each of the 32 council areas being declared in the early hours of Friday morning.

More than 4m people have registered to vote in the referendum, and both sides expect turnout to be extremely high. Mary Pitcaithly, the chief counting officer, told the BBC on Wednesday that about 80 per cent of the 790,000 postal votes had been returned.

Based on the voter registration data and the Press Association’s estimated declaration times, here is an approximate timetable of what to expect during the night of the count:

2am: The first seven councils, accounting for up to 15 per cent of the registered electorate’s votes, are expected to declare their results. They are East Lothian, Inverclyde, Moray, North Lanarkshire, the Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross and the Western Isles. Clackmannanshire, with just 39,970 registered voters, is likely to declare a half-hour later.

3am: Eleven council areas, representing nearly a third of the registered electorate, are expected to declare their results. They are Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire. Just under half the possible votes are likely to have been counted at this stage.

3:30am: Six councils, covering up to 11 per cent of the electorate, will declare. They are: Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire, Midlothian, the Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, and West Lothian. More than half the votes are likely to have been counted at this stage.

4am: Around 4am, more than 70 per cent of the votes are likely to have been counted. Fife and Highland, which cover a further 11 per cent of the electorate between them, are expected to declare with another large council area, North Ayrshire, following a half-hour later.

5am: More than a fifth of the possible votes could be declared around 5am, as Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, declare their results, along with the Scottish Borders. More than 95 per cent of the votes are likely to have been counted at this stage.

6am: Aberdeen is expected to be the last council area to declare its results. With just over 4 per cent of the registered electorate, the result of the referendum could be determined by the count in the northern city.

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