Volunteer for LAMDL
Be a Judge!

The LAMDL relies heavily on volunteers in order to provide the life-changing opportunities debate has to offer to as many students as possible. No prior debate experience or training is required, and virtually any level of commitment can be accommodated.

Your Commitment: Our tournaments start on Friday late afternoon and end Saturday early evening. We ask volunteers to judge in one of three sessions; two Friday debates, two Saturday morning debates, or two Saturday afternoon debates. Each debate typically last 1½ hours. Of course, if you have the time, feel free to volunteer to judge during more than one session. We also ask volunteers to attend a half hour training session before judging. As a judge, you will listen to the debaters, provide feedback to them when the debate round is over, offer encouragement, and then choose a winner.

Registration: Joining us is simple, click on the date you will attend below and fill out the form that pops up. It is extremely important that you are present once you make that commitment. You will be assigned to a judge a specific debate round that cannot happen if you are not there. On behalf of our students, we thank you for joining us!

Creating your Tabroom.com Account

Signing up for a Tabroom account is quick and easy.

First, go to https://www.tabroom.com/ and click the "Sign Up" link in the upper right hand corner of the page:

Second, fill out the registration information and submit by clicking "Create Account". You can use any email address you like to sign up, but we suggest using a personal email instead of a work or school email. If you put in your cell phone number and choose your provider, you will be able to receive texts from tournaments you attend with pairings, information, etc.

Finally, you will have to verify your account by entering a confirmation code. If you think that you did not receive a confirmation code please be sure to check your spam folder. If the code was never sent, you may need to use a different email.

You are ready to judge! You will use this account for all tournaments that you judge at - in person and online. Be sure to use the same email when you sign up to volunteer so that we can enter you in the tournament and you can access your ballots.

Judging Tips

Some handy tips to make your experience judging go well.

1. Be an objective observer:

Never allow your personal opinion on an issue affect the way you judge. Instead, evaluate how well debaters are explaining their arguments and attacking their opponents' arguments.

2. Take detailed notes:

Write down what the debaters are saying to evaluate the arguments and logic presented in the debate.

3. Unanswered arguments are true:

Arguments that are not answered are "dropped." If an opponent "extends" and explains the dropped argument it must be evaluated with significant weight, no matter how ridiculous.

4. Do not allow students to go overtime:

While you may feel bad cutting students off, we need debates to finish on the time they are scheduled. Please do not let the students speak longer than they are supposed to do.

5. Be supportive of confused students:

Coaches are doing a great job of recruiting new students, so there will be many first time debaters. They may not know what is going on and will make mistakes. No matter what students you judge, be supportive. Generally you should not intervene during thedebate, but intervention is OK when a student needs encouragement.

6. Your decision is always correct:

Debaters have to convince you their side is correct. No matter how well they think they explained an argument or how convinced they are it is true, if they do not persuade you, they did not do their job. Do not worry about making the "wrong" decision because there is no such thing!

How to Fill out a Ballot

At the start of the round, make sure each student's name is written in the appropriate spot (1A, 2A, 1N, 2N) on the ballot and you know which team is affirmative and negative. At the end of the round, evaluate which team best articulated and defended their position.

On the ballot, write the name of the team that won and whether they were Affirmative or Negative. Assign speaker points for each student in the debate. Please do not give the same number of points to more than one student in each debate. Speaker points should range from 26 to 30 points. You can give partial points with tenths (27.9, 28.2, etc.).

Sample Novice Debate Ballot. Yours will look similar.

Speaker Points

30 Truly brilliant debater! Flawless speeches. Very rare.

29.5 Nearly perfect effective and persuasive.

29 Amazing. Well above average. Deserving of a speaker award.

28.5 Very good. Above average.

28 Good. Slightly above average.

27.5 Average speaker. Strengths and weaknesses are nearly balanced.

27 Lower-middle speaker with strengths, but unmistakable flaws.

26 Ineffective speaker overall, significant room for improvement.

After assigning speaker points, rank the students from 1-4 (1 being the best debater in the round and 4 being the worst debater in the round). No speaker can receive the same rank as another speaker in the round. The highest ranked debater should have the highest speaker points and the lowest rank debater should have the lowest speaker points.

Finally, sign the ballot and return your completed ballot to the ballot table. Please provide the students with some brief immediate verbal feedback on what they did. More can be written directly on the ballot, and students will receive it after the tournament. If you feel comfortable, please tell the debaters who won the debate. You've just judged a debate!

Speech Order and Times

1AC - 8 Minutes

Cross-Examination (2NC asks the 1AC Questions) - 3 Minutes

1NC - 8 Minutes

Cross-Examination (1AC asks the 1NC Questions) - 3 Minutes

2AC - 8 Minutes

Cross-Examination (1NC asks the 2AC Questions) - 3 Minutes

2NC - 8 Minutes

Cross-Examination (2AC asks the 2NC Questions) - 3 Minutes

1NR - 5 Minutes

1AR - 5 Minutes

2NR - 5 Minutes

2AR - 5 Minutes

Each Team has 8 minutes of preparation time over the course of the debate. Keep a tally of the amount of prep time they have left.

Thank you!

The LAMDL would like to extend a huge thank you for volunteering at our tournaments. your time makes it possible for over 600 students all across L.A. County to participate in policy debate. Thank you!