I’ve just been to vote. My partner, my eldest stepson and I went down to the village hall and marked our referendum ballot papers with a very carefully considered X. And when I was there, I asked the staff at the polling station if it had been busy at all.
Now, bear in mind that this isn’t an inner city polling station. It is a small village hall serving a relatively sparsely populated area. But, to quote one of the women, ‘the first two and a half hours have just flown by’. They confirmed that, unlike the last election, where we went to the polls to elect our MEP’s, the turnout already has appeared to them to be higher, and that was at just ten o’clock this morning.
I dearly hope that we do get the eighty percent plus turnout that has been predicted by experts. It would be demoralising and disheartening to have such an important decision for Scotland based on the opinions of just thirty-odd percent of voters. But we saw several people coming in and out and the car park was surprisingly full for a weekday morning (including a very big tractor and trailer in which a local farmer came to cast his ballot), so I am hopeful that everyone who can vote will indeed come out to make their voice heard.
I cannot deny that I am feeling a certain amount of anxiety today. I do not know how I will feel tomorrow when the result is announced. Whichever way it goes, my emotions will be running strongly, a combination of elation and tension or fear and disappointment, or maybe all of these depending on exactly how close things are and what sort of rhetoric the politicians start to spew. But, as long as the turnout is high and the majority of Scottish people do go to the polls and make their voice heard, I don’t think any result would be too hard to bear- if only a small percentage of voters turned out, that would be disappointing in the extreme no matter what the result.
Almost every single opinion poll published in the previous month has shown that the vote is likely to be forty-something percent in one direction and fifty-something percent in the other. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if as little as a few hundred votes over the entire country sway it, with tiny percentage points reflecting the difference, for example as with Quebec’s referendum in 1995 where the results were 50.58% against 49.42%. And I have said for many months now that I believe the Scottish Independence referendum results will be 49% to 51%, but I’ve never yet wanted to try and predict which way these figures will sit.
Who knows what will happen next in, to, and for Scotland – that’s a decision not only for the public today but for politicians of all flavours in the weeks and months ahead as they strive to make good pledges and promises and determine what the results actually mean for their policies and their offices. All I know is that I’ve voted and done my bit for democracy.