In or out? UK votes on EU membership

Story highlights

  • A record 46.5 million people are registered to vote in Thursday’s referendum
  • The final result is expected Friday after votes are counted in 12 regions

London (CNN)Voters headed to the polls Thursday in a historic referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.

Citizens clutched umbrellas as they lined up at the polls despite heavy rain and overnight thunderstorms causing flooding in parts of London and southeastern England.
Weather across the rest of the region was mixed — sunshine was forecast in parts of Scotland, while heavy showers were set to move across Northern Ireland.

Happiest I’ve ever been to see a rainy queue at 7:30 in the morning #eureferendum #ivoted #CNNiReport

A photo posted by Sophie Carr (@sophie_117) on

CNN crews reported brisk voting, and members of the public posted photos of busy polling stations across the country.
A record number of people — almost 46.5 million — are registered to take part in the once-in-a generation vote.

    The registered voters include Britons from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar — a British territory off the southern coast of Spain.
    The question they’ve been pondering for months: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the EU or leave it?
    As soon as polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (2 a.m. ET), British citizens over age 18, along with Irish and Commonwealth citizens living in the UK, began delivering their verdict at the ballot box.
    British Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha leave a London polling station Thursday.

    They included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who voted at a hall in London; Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who also voted in the capital; and UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, a leading “Leave” advocate, who voted in Westerham, England.
    UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage votes in Westerham, England.

    British citizens living abroad have already cast their votes by mail.
    Some schools across the UK are closed for the day, to serve as polling stations, but it is class as usual for others.
    Polling stations across the UK will close at 10 p.m. (5 p.m. ET), with the first results expected about midnight (7 p.m. ET).
    Britain’s Electoral Commission tweeted that those delayed on the way to polling stations as a result of bad weather should not be overly concerned, as anyone standing in line to vote at 10 p.m. would be able to do so.

    UK referendum: Full coverage

    Strict rules mean that broadcasters, such as CNN, are limited in what they can report while polls are open.
    The final, nationwide result is expected to be announced Friday morning.
    The UK has been a member of the European Union (and its precursors) since 1973.
    European citizens living in the UK are not eligible to vote unless they’re from Malta or Cyprus — both members of the Commonwealth, while citizens of Ireland are eligible to vote if they live in the UK.

    I voted.

    A photo posted by Todd Baxter (@beatletodd) on

    Members of Britain’s House of Lords are also eligible to vote — even if they cannot cast ballots in general elections.
    Once the results are in, they will be announced by region rather than by constituency.
    The 12 regions include Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, London and eight English regions.
    The Electoral Commission tweeted that it was fine for voters to fill out their ballot papers in pencil after some expressed concern on Twitter that they had been given pencils at the polling station.
    “(U)sing a pencil to vote… is fine. But you can use your own pen if you wish. Just don’t leave it behind!” the tweet says.