The Haven bar in Jamaica Plain is a hotbed of Scottish culture, from the photos of famous Scots on the walls to the green, blue, and black tartan kilt worn by owner Jason Waddleton.

It's also a place where local Scots—who aren't allowed to participate in today's vote on Scottish independence—can still have a say.

Since last Monday, the Haven has been holding its own referendum on Scottish independence—open to Boston-area Scots and to anyone else who wants to cast a ballot.

"There's a tremendous amount of interest," Waddleton says. "The box keeps getting full up. We're at 600 just now."

Early returns show the Haven's voters favoring secession from the UK. That happens to be Waddleton's position, too.

"They're both compelling arguments," Waddleston says of the cases for and against independence. "It's almost like your heart and your head.

"At the end of the day, if I was to step into the ballot booth in Scotland today, I'd be compelled to give it a shot in the dark and go—risk, kind of. Go for it."

As Waddleston sees it, England's increasing political conservatism and Scotland's staunch liberalism simply aren't a good fit.

"Scottish people in general are not particularly right wing, so to speak," he says.  "It's not about 'Braveheart,' and being anti-English. It's more about Scottish people having a feeling of creating a better social society.

That idea was echoed by Scottish emigre John Morris, who cast his vote at the Haven for independence.

"The  opportunity for Scotch people to realize their full potential, with the social programs, development, economic wealth that they have—I think it's worth going after," Morris says.

In the immediate aftermath of a "Yes" vote, Morris acknowledges, "It will be difficult, very difficult. But I think in the long run it will be absolutely brilliant."

Irishman Warren O'Reilly was a "yes" vote, too.

"If it can be done in Scotland, it can be done in Northern Ireland, which is personal to me and my family," O'Reilly says.
The Haven's poll closes at 7PM Thursday. At that point, the bar's patrons will turn to media coverage of the real referendum.

Waddleton is looking forward to a busy night for his establishment—but not, he confesses, to the result he's been hoping for.

"If you'd asked me this two weeks ago, I would've said it was going to be yes," Waddleton says. "I was thinking there was a groundswell movement, which of course there was."

But now, he adds, "It seems to have stalled. I think they've pulled out the big guns and tried to create a bit of scaremongering, you will, and I think that has affected people.

"This morning, it looks like it's going a bit from 50-50 in favor of the 'No' campaign. So that's where we think it's going to go."

For the results of the Haven's Scottish-independence referendum, follow @thehavenjp.