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Society, Politics & Law

The 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum - Turnout

Updated Monday, 2nd March 2015

What was the turnout for the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and what did this mean for the long-term debate? 

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Arrow on a brick wall shows people where to vote Creative commons image Icon KCIvey under CC BY-NC-2.0 licence under Creative-Commons license The Scottish Independence Referendum Campaign has been widely praised as a unique exercise in political democracy; the mobilisation of a population – or huge sections of it – in a political debate about a country’s future that has been rarely seen in recent times. It has mobilised thousands of people, especially among the young, in demands for a better Scotland – and for some others for a better UK.  
The turnout on September 18 2014 of around 85% was hugely impressive and the highest in any major UK voting event since 1918. However, that still means that around 650,000 voters did not turn out to vote. Overall turnout was very high by comparison with recent Scottish (50.4 % in the 2011 Scottish Parliament Election) and UK elections (63.8% in the 2010 UK General Election), and also when compared with the 1997 Referendum on Devolution for Scotland, which saw 60.4% of the electorate vote. This was also the first major UK vote in which 16 and 17-year olds had the vote, some 109,000 of them. 
Turnout was highest (at over 90%) in three generally affluent areas – which all subsequently returned a NO vote. While Glasgow recorded a 75% turnout, a record high for Scotland’s largest city, nonetheless this means that a quarter of all voters in the city did not take part in the Referendum.
While the geography of turnout across Scotland was uneven, reflecting among other things contrasting demography and levels of affluence and disadvantage, the most significant fact is that the vast majority of the voting population of 4,283,392 were politically mobilised in the wider debate about the constitutional future of Scotland. This extended beyond voting – as we will see in the next article.
This article is part of a series of articles on the 2014 Scottish Referendum.




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