World

Polls open across Scotland as voters decide whether to break from UK and become independent

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, file photo, a "No" campaign supporter and a "Yes" campaign supporter chat holding posters after a No campaign event where a number of speeches were made by different people and politicians in Glasgow, Scotland. Breaking up is hard to do, especially after 300 years. The people of the United Kingdom will find out just how hard if Scotland votes for independence on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, file photo, a "No" campaign supporter and a "Yes" campaign supporter chat holding posters after a No campaign event where a number of speeches were made by different people and politicians in Glasgow, Scotland. Breaking up is hard to do, especially after 300 years. The people of the United Kingdom will find out just how hard if Scotland votes for independence on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • A voter leaves after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

    A voter leaves after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)  (The Associated Press)

  • The shadow of a voter is cast after as he leaves after voting at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

    The shadow of a voter is cast after as he leaves after voting at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)  (The Associated Press)

Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state.

More than 2,600 polling places will be open Thursday from 7 a.m. (0600GMT, 2 a.m. EDT) until 10 p.m. (2100GMT, 5 p.m. EDT).

Turnout is expected to be high, with more than 4.2 million people registered to vote — 97 percent of those eligible.

Polls suggest the result is too close to call, with the pro-independence Yes side gaining momentum in the final weeks of campaigning.

First Minister Alex Salmond is casting his vote near his home in northeast Scotland.

If the Yes side prevails he will realize a long-held dream of leading his country to independence after an alliance with England formed in 1707.