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Scotland’s voters to make their choice in independence referendum

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Posted at 10:34 AM, Sep 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-18 10:34:49-04

SCOTLAND — Scotland’s voters head to the polls Thursday to cast their ballots in the country’s landmark independence referendum.

There, they will face a straightforward yes/no question: Should Scotland be an independent country?

More than 4.2 million people have registered to vote, the largest electorate ever in Scotland, and turnout in the referendum is expected to be high.

A vote for independence would mean Scotland, with its population of about 5.3 million, splits from the rest of the United Kingdom, made up of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. local time (2 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) across 32 voting districts nationwide, from the remote highlands and islands to the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Results are expected to come in overnight into Friday morning local time.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has led the pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign.

The main parties in Westminster, the seat of the UK government, have joined forces behind the pro-union “Better Together” campaign.

For the first time, the vote has been extended to 16- and 17-year-olds living in Scotland.

Voters in the referendum do not have to be British citizens; Commonwealth, Irish and EU citizens who live in Scotland and are registered to vote there can cast a ballot. However, Scots living outside Scotland do not have a say.