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University of Texas at Austin
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Speech & Debate
Contact Info

Speech & Debate Director:
Jana Riggins

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State Champions

Criteria for Judging CX Debate

  1.  Debate is a contest in arguing a specific resolution. Each affirmative team will interpret the resolution differently. Your task is to determine whether the affirmative proves that the adoption of the resolution would be in the best interests of the United States.
  2. Regardless of your judging philosophy, there are generally six types of arguments which may evolve in a debate round. To make your judgment, you should take notes, and after the round, balance the issues. This will help you determine, based on what the debaters presented, whether adopting the resolution is in the best interests of the United States.

Key Issues

Topicality: Does the affirmative team offer a plan within the current resolution?
Inherency: Has the affirmative case shown that the status quo is unable or unwilling to redress the
Impacts: If the plan is not passed, what potential harmful situation will occur? What advantage is
there to the plan? How big are the impacts? Are they likely?
Solvency: Has the affirmative case shown that the plan will solve all or a significant portion of the
Disadvantages: The negative team may offer disadvantages explaining how the affirmative case causes its
own harmful impacts. Is this impact likely? Does it outweigh the affirmative cases’ impacts?
Counterplan: The negative may propose a specific counterplan as an alternative to the affirmative plan.
Does the counterplan solve for the impacts of the disadvantages or others?


3. Making the decision: Depending upon your judging philosophy, you might follow the sequence below:
a. Is the affirmative plan topical? Unless the negative disproves this, assume it is. Don’t use your own bias. If the negative has shown that the plan is not topical, then most judges will vote negative (disregarding items b and c below).
b. Inherency/Solvency Balancing: If the negative has made arguments about inherency or solvency, ask how much would be gained by adopting the affirmative plan after considering these arguments. If some advantage remains, then move to item c below.
c. Disadvantages Balancing: Balance the gains expected by adopting the affirmative plan with any disadvantages the negative has proven would occur by adopting the plan. Determine if the impacts from the disadvantages are worse than the impacts from the affirmative case.
d. Plan/Counterplan Balancing: If the negative has offered a counterplan, the question is whether the counterplan offers a good reason to reject the affirmative plan or whose plan solves for more significant impacts.
4. Speed of delivery: Some debaters have developed an excessively rapid style of delivery that interferes with the element of communication that is basic to debate. The ballot provides an avenue for indicating to the debater that speed of delivery did or did not interfere with communication. If the speaker’s speed of delivery interferes with your ability to follow the course of the debate, you should lower the speaker points.
5. Filling out the ballot:
a. Record decision (affirmative or negative)
b. Award points (30 points is highest; 20 is the lowest) to each debater. Since speaker points are a crucial determinant of advancement, avoid excessively low speaker points unless truly warranted.
Speaker Criteria: Organization, Evidence, Analysis, Refutation, Oral Style, Speed of Delivery
c. Award ranks (1, 2, 3, 4 with 1st being awarded to the debater with the most points and so on) to debaters. Points and ranks should correspond.
d. Write your reasons for your decision in the space provided.
e. Sign your ballot.

Presenting a very brief preview of argument order before speeches, often referred to as a “roadmap,” aids in clarity of the
round and is not considered part of the speech. However, debaters should not abuse this privilege by excessive length of
the roadmap. Abuse may count against a team at the discretion of the judge(s).