VOTING to elect the new leader of the Scottish National Party ends at noon today (Monday January 27)

Three candidates are in the running for the top job in Scottish politics: with Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former Community Safety Minister, Ash Regan, all standing.

Ballot papers were sent out to the 72,186 SNP members, who were tasked with choosing their party's new leader.

READ MORE: Police in the Scottish Borders change twitter handle

With the SNP the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, whoever wins the contest will almost certainly go on to become the country's sixth first minister.

The single transferable voting system being used means second preferences could be key in determining the next SNP leader.

Party members will be asked to rank the three candidates in order of preference, and if no single candidate secures more than 50% of votes on first preferences, the person in third place will be eliminated.

Their second preference votes will then be distributed amongst the two remaining candidates in order to find the winner.

And the winner is due to be announced around 2pm at the Scottish Parliament.

The result will be broadcast live by all news channels.

READ MORE: Dramatic penalty shoot out victory for Gala Fairydean Rovers

Shortly after the announcement of a new SNP leader, it is expected that Nicola Sturgeon MSP will formally tender her resignation as First Minister of Scotland to the King. (This is a requirement under section 45(2) of the Scotland Act 1998)

The Scottish Parliament will select a new First Minister on the afternoon of Tuesday March 28.

The First Minister is appointed by the King, on the recommendation of the Scottish Parliament.

And later this week, he or she will be sworn in at the Court of Session, Scotland’s senior civil court.