DEAR SUN SPOTS: Androscoggin County students in grades 5 through 8 are encouraged to participate in the Elks Americanism Essay Contest. The theme is, “why is it important to vote?” This is an avenue for our future citizens to give a patriotic voice to the importance of voting. It is also a great activity for any Girl or Boy Scout, individual or troop. A cover sheet is required to accompany the essay. Application information can be found at along with the details of the contest. The cover sheet and essay should be sent to: Winifred Gray, Lewiston Lodge of Elks #371, 1675 Lisbon St, Lewiston, ME 04240 by Dec. 16, 2016. — Nancy, no town.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I may sound ignorant regarding how presidential elections work, but I know that many voters also wonder and are embarrassed to ask. We hear on the news that a certain number of electoral votes are needed to win the election. They seem to already know these numbers. My question is, do our votes really count or not? — No name, no town.

ANSWER: The magic number is 270, the number of electoral votes to win the majority and the presidency. Poll numbers abound right now but these are not true votes, do not let predictions deter you from voting.

Electoral votes come from the popular vote, your vote. The electors from each state cast a vote for whichever candidate wins the majority of votes in their state, although Maine and Nebraska are slightly different.

In Maine, electoral votes are also assigned by “proportional representation,” meaning that of our state’s four electoral votes, two are allocated, one for each congressional district. The other two votes are based on the state’s overall popular vote. With proportional representation it is possible for more than one candidate to get an electoral vote instead of “winner-take-all” if the districts differ. While a large population resides in Maine’s first district, the majority of the state is contained within the second district. Mainers have more of a say than most states in a way because the popular vote for each district gets its own vote in the Electoral College.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The ladies of the Goodwill Fellowship of the First Universalist Church of West Paris are undertaking a project that we hope will be a community service as well as a fundraiser for the church. We are looking for people in Norway, West Paris and Woodstock who would like help in attending to the graves of loved ones. We will place silk flowers on graves for Memorial Day and wreaths on graves before Christmas. Each spring we will rake up debris and remove weeds. For further information call 207-674-2143. Thank you. — Marta Clements, Norway.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am a disabled widow who is working on a project with buttons — any size, color or shape — but I have run out. I am wondering if any readers have any buttons that they would be willing to part with. It would be greatly appreciated as they are so expensive. I am willing to pay the mailing cost, P.O. Box 56, Greene, ME 04236. — Patricia Robichaud, Greene.

Use the QR code to go to Sun Spots online for additional information and links. This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected], tweeted @SJ_SunSpots or posted on the Sun Spots Facebook page at This column can also be read online at We’ve joined Pinterest at

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