Scottish Independence Holyrood Report: A Tale of Two Realities

Polling stations have now closed at 2,608 locations across the Scotland for the independence referendum.

With 4,285,323 people - 97% of the electorate - registered to vote, it is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history. The turnout is expected to be over 90 percent.

All that is left to do now is wait for the results across Scotland's 32 local government areas to come in before the historic decision is revealed.

After votes have been tallied, the counting officer in each area will communicate the result to the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly in Edinburgh.

Elections Scotland has estimated that the result will be announced between 06:30 and 07:30 BST.

Ms Pitcaithly has predicted that it will be called at "breakfast time".

However, running totals - which can be made from the first declaration onwards - may indicate a result earlier in the morning, and owing to the remote nature of some Scottish regions, there is also a possibility that bad weather could delay the national result. Helicopters and boats are being used to transport ballot boxes to counts in areas such as Argyll and Bute.

THE COUNTDOWN

10:00pm Polls will close and counting will begin immediately. It will be around three or four hours before anyone knows what has happened. The weather could also have an effect, with helicopters on standby in areas such as the Highlands to collect ballot box papers.

2:00am The first declarations are scheduled in seven areas - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Orkney, East Lothian, Perth and Kinross and Moray – bringing in an estimated 660,000 of the total votes.

The results of North Lanarkshire look set to be the first big indicator of the result, especially for the No campaign, as it is one of the largest portions of the electorate as well as being a strong Labour council.

2:30am The results for Clackmannanshire, a council with both strong Labour and SNP voters, is expected to come in.

3:00am Eleven more authorities expected to be announced from around 1.4 million votes (32% of the total electorate).

Once these areas have been counted, nearly half of the expected total number of votes on the night will have been accounted for. Alex Salmond's campaign will be watching with interest for the results in areas such as Stirling, Angus and Dundee, where his SNP party hold council. Salmond also holds a seat in Aberdeenshire East.

3:30am Six more councils, including the Shetland, and Midlothian, expected to declare.

Alex Salmond and Alistair DarlingAlex Salmond and Alistair Darling take part in the Scottish independence debate(Getty)

The outcome of some of these areas, including West Lothian, has been difficult to predict as they have both strong SNP and Labour representation.

4:00am The Highlands and Fife – an area where Labour have performed well – to announce their results from near 500,000 voters.

4:30am North Ayrshire due to announce results, an area where the BNP performed well during the 2012 European elections.

5:00am The biggest declarations of the night, with the capital Edinburgh, Glasgow – the area with the highest share of electorate – and the Borders all due to reveal their results.

Both campaigns would want to declare Edinburgh as the area who voted for their side, with the Yes campaign hoping Glasgow, a city which has shown strong support for Independence, brings them a large number of votes to help them win on the night.

The outcome of these local authorities will be key to deciding the result of the entire referendum.

6:00am Aberdeen will become the final local authority to declare its vote.

6:30am onwards Chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly to declare the result of the historic vote and whether or not the 307-year Union will come to an end.

Once all the votes for have been counted at the end of any of the 32 local authorities, each campaign can request a recount at any one of the areas. However, a recount can not be requested once all the results are in.