About the only certainty in today’s Scottish Referendum appears to be that polling station staff will see more people pass through their doors than at any election in living memory.
With around 97% having registered to vote today the turnout is anticipated to be over 90% – far higher than the average 65% who turn out at general elections and the fewer than 45% average for local council and European elections.
Well over 4000 more people have registered to vote in Moray than ever before and with almost every pre-referendum poll showing the Yes and No campaigns neck and neck it has been impossible for anyone to predict which way their decision will take Scotland.
It is against this backdrop that the Chief Counting Officer for the referendum is urging voters to ensure that their ballot paper counts, Mary Pitcaithly saying: “The safest way to ensure your vote counts is to only put one ‘X’ in the box beside the answer you want to choose.
“People who are voting at a polling place should think about what time they are going to vote.
“Polling places are busiest during the early morning and in the evening as people vote on their way to and from work. If you are able to avoid these times, I would encourage you to do so to ensure everyone can vote without having to queue for any length of time.”
The first referendum results are expected to be declared at around 2am with Moray likely to be one of the first regions to announce their decision. By 3am around 19 regions could be expected to have given their results, with the remainder coming through until 6am when the final regional count is expected from Aberdeen.
Moray’s Yes campaigners received a boost on the eve of polling when a former senior RAF Officer said that he would be voting Yes.
Wing Commander Steve Walsh OBE only recently retired after a 29-year career that included service at RAF Kinloss at the time when the UK Government called a halt to the Nimrod maritime patrol programme at the Moray base.
He said: “I was very proud to serve on the Nimrod fleet and believe it was a massive mistake for Westminster to scrap all maritime patrol aircraft without any plan to fill the capability gap.
“I sense that the only way to return a maritime patrol capability to Scotland is through independence.”
Meanwhile Moray Labour party representatives working for the Better Together campaign have complained of ‘dirty tricks’ from their Yes campaigning SNP counterparts in the region.
Labour group leader Councillor John Divers has said a letter sent from the Yes Moray campaign purporting to be from a former member of the Moray Labour party who had pledged to vote Yes “came as a surprise”.
He said: “I have been a trade unionist since the late seventies and I’ve campaigned for Labour for decades. In every role I’ve had in the party I don’t recall ever meeting this member.
“He is not a member of the party. His name rings no bells.
“Labour are out fighting for the unity of this country to protect our NHS, protect the pound, protect our jobs and our security. Labour members will not be duped by dirty tricks on the last day of the campaign.”
insideMoray will be at the Moray count in the Fisherman’s Hall in Buckie this evening providing updates on the results.