EDINBURGH - People in Scotland began voting on Thursday in a referendum on whether the country should become independent or stay part of the United Kingdom.
After an intense final day of campaigning, voters turned up at polling stations in schools and halls as soon they opened at 0600 GMT on a day that will decide the fate of a 307-year-old union.
The first to cast a ballot in Edinburgh's Waverley Court was a businessman who gave his name as Ron.
"This is a historic day for Scotland. I've waited all my life for this. It's time to break with England. 'Yes' to independence," he said after casting his ballot.
As he spoke, a couple of workers hurrying by shouted "Vote No.!"
Four opinion polls on the eve of the vote showed support for independence at 48 per cent compared with 52 per cent for the union but a fifth showed it even closer on 49 to 51 per cent.
The surveys also showed as many as 600,000 voters out of 4.3 million remained undecided with just hours to go before the polling stations opened.
Electoral officials said the result of the vote is expected by breakfast time on Friday morning.