Swaths of voters appear to have stayed away from polling stations on the day that councillors were chosen for all 32 of Scotland's local authorities.
Political parties and council spokesmen reported a "quiet" start to voting, despite fine weather in most parts of the country.
The vote is the first nationwide poll since the SNP won an outright majority in last year's elections to the Scottish Parliament and the first local elections not to coincide with a Holyrood vote since devolution.
The decision to split the votes followed the debacle of the 2007 election, which saw around 100,000 ballots spoilt. The problems were blamed on the introduction of electronic counting and the confusion caused by using different voting systems.
The 1,223 councillors being chosen on Thursday are being elected on the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, in which voters list candidates in order of preference.
Party leaders were maintaining an upbeat message as voters went to the polls, but the overall picture suggested a lack of enthusiasm from the electorate.
Edinburgh City Council reported turnout being "quieter than expected" but hoped numbers would increase in the evening. Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council said it was too early to give an indication of turnout.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "Turnout seems quite low but we are working hard to get all Conservatives to go to the polls.
"The party is fighting every mainland ward for the first time and we have been encouraged by the response from our own supporters."
SNP campaign director Derek Mackay, who is also the Scottish Government's Local Government Minister, said: "We've fought a good, positive election campaign and we are confident that we have achieved our objective of becoming the largest party in local government across Scotland.
"Given that this is the first time in almost 20 years that council elections have been held as a stand-alone poll, almost all of us are in uncharted territory in terms of turnout.
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "There is great campaigning weather across the country and we hope this will help drive up turnout."
Scotland's four million voters have until 10pm to have their say, although as many as 550,000 people are thought to have voted by post.
The votes will not be counted until tomorrow because of the electronic technology used to tally the votes under the STV system.
More About Local elections 2012
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- Voters go to the polls a week late to elect final three councillors
- Councils in Lothians strike deals after days of negotiations
- Councils across Scotland starting to take shape after days of negotiations
- Negotiations across the Lothians in the wake of local government elections