Five things to know about Rhode Island’s elections Tuesday.
1. POLLS CLOSE EARLIER
Polls open at 7 a.m. everywhere but Block Island, where they open at 9 a.m. Polls statewide close at 8 p.m. That’s earlier than the last major election in 2010, when polls closed at 9 p.m. in most communities.
2. BRING PHOTO ID, OR AT LEAST A UTILITY BILL
Voters will be asked to present identification because of a new state law designed to stamp out voter fraud. Starting in 2014 voters must present a photo ID, but this year nonphoto IDs will be accepted. A driver’s license, U.S. passport, student ID, bus pass or utility bill will suffice this year. Voters who lack the proper ID will be allowed to cast provisional ballots.
3. REPUBLICAN HOPES IN 1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Republicans see their best shot in two decades to win a U.S. House seat from Rhode Island, where freshman Rep. David Cicilline of the 1st Congressional District faces challenger Brendan Doherty, former head of the state police. The race has gotten ugly in recent days, with national parties pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV attack ads.
4. FOX IN A BIND(ER)
This year’s hottest state legislative race ended up being one no one expected. Powerful House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, is campaigning hard for another term against independent Mark Binder, who has taken Fox to task for his role in the debacle over the state’s $75 million loan guarantee to former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s failed video game company. The last time a sitting House speaker was defeated in a re-election bid was in 1906.
5. BETTING ON CASINOS
Rhode Island’s two slot parlors, the Newport Grand and Lincoln’s Twin River, hope voters give them permission to offer casino table games like poker and blackjack to compete with casinos now authorized to be built in next-door Massachusetts. Voters here have rejected casino referendums before, but backers are wagering that the promise of jobs and additional state revenue trump anti-gambling concerns.