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by Sharon Rondeau

The pattern of the Black Watch tartan, a traditional Scottish plaid

(Sep. 18, 2014) — As of Thursday evening, polls have closed and votes are being counted in the referendum on Scottish independence from Great Britain.

As of 10:53 p.m. EDT/3:53 a.m. GMT UK time, several districts have appeared to have voted against Scottish independence, according to the BBC.

Districts are called “councils” in Scotland, which  total 32.  More than 80% of registered voters reportedly participated in the election.

Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707.  The vote on Thursday is on the single question of “Should Scotland become an independent country?”

At present, Scotland has its own parliament whose authority might expand regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s vote.  Under British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scotland’s parliament was given more autonomy over health programs and other services such as education.

On September 9, The New York Times reported that the most recent polling at that time showed that Scots were in favor of independence from the UK by a slim margin.  Shortly before, surveys appeared to indicate the opposite.

Control of local social welfare programs and taxes are a reason which those in favor of Scottish independence have cited.  However, an independent Scotland might not be able to fund existing or expanded public programs to which the Scots are accustomed.

The United Kingdom’s Parliament sits in Westminster and includes Scottish members.  Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Scots to remain “in the union.”

Voters in outlying islands appeared to have voted against Scottish independence in early reported results.


Update, 12:48 p.m. EDT, September 19, 2014:  Scots voted against independence from the UK in final voting results reported on Friday.

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