WHEN I cast my votes [for Cambridgeshire County Council and the European Parliament], I was horrified to find that I had to put both ballot papers in the same box. I have no idea how much time was wasted at the Burgess Hall in St Ives separating the county council papers from those for the European elections. However, according to BBC Look East, in Essex it took four hours to do this simple task. I suspect this time may have also covered counting the papers. Mr Monks [the returning officer] is supposed to be an acknowledged authority on election procedures and HDC a quality council. There seems to have been very little authority and even less quality in the way the elections were organised. The country is in a financial mess and both HDC and Cambridgeshire have financial problems of their own. So why are our elections not conducted in a much more efficient and cost-effective manner? COLIN M SAUNDERSON Cedar Road St Ives Editor's note: HDC said experience showed that, even if separate boxes are provided, some voters will put ballots in the wrong one, so the process of separating them has to happen anyway.