SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The commission preparing and holding the All-Crimean Referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea announced Sunday that the final turnout rate for the referendum was 82.71 percent.
Commission Chairman Mikhail Malyshev told the press that for the entire autonomous republic, the turnout rate was 82.71 percent, while the sea port of Sevastopol had a higher turnout at 89.51 percent.
The 2014 referendum was conducted on Sunday from 0800 to 2000 local time, with 1,205 polling stations collecting votes cast by some 1.52 million registered voters.
Before Malyshev's briefing, some of the international observers also gave their briefing at the referendum press center.
Representatives of the international observers said they did not notice any serious problems with the referendum.
An exit poll commissioned by the Kryminform news service and conducted by the Crimean Republic Institute for Political and Social Studies, found 93 percent of voters preferred reunifying with Russia and 7 percent favored staying with Ukraine on condition of restoring the 1992 Crimean constitution for greater autonomy.
Final results of the 12-hour plebiscite were expected to come out overnight, with a possible official announcement some time on Monday.
Crimeans in Simferopol and Sevastopol were seen already waiting for celebrations for the outcome of the 2014 referendum.
Most, when asked, expressed their confidence that this third referendum in the history of the peninsula would direct them "home " to Russia.
The peninsula, historically part of the Russian Federation, was transferred to Ukraine in May 1954, then a republic of the Soviet Union.
In 1992, the Crimean Supreme Council (parliament) declared independence in May pending a referendum which was called off by the Ukrainian authorities.
Crimea held two other referendums in 1991 and 1994, testing voters' preference for greater autonomy within Ukraine or uniting with Russia.
The same supreme council decided on March 6 this year to hold the peninsula's third referendum which was originally scheduled for March 30 after the Ukrainian authorities decided to annul Russian as the official language in the peninsula.
The Crimean Supreme Council passed a resolution of declaration of independence on March 11 to pave the way for Sunday's referendum.