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8 October 2007

Tips: Tab Sheets

Many debaters will have experienced the long wait in the corridor outside the debate venue as the judges inside deliberate on their decision. Then the door will open and a piece of paper gets handed to a runner and the door closes again for 5 minutes. Then when the teams get called in to hear the oral adjudication a second piece of paper gets passed to the runner.

What are those pieces of paper and for anyone planning to adjudicate what do they contain.

Speed Ballot: This is the critical information that the tab room needs to draw the next round. It ranks the teams from first to fourth. The example below is the version that was used at Worlds in Stellenboach. At the main competitions the tab system will produce a ballot paper with much of the information already filled in (i.e. judges, rooms, teams). All the chair of the panel has to do is fill in the result.

The Full Ballot: This contains similar basic details to the speed ballot but in this case it also contains the speaker points. This data is sometimes inputted a round later than the team points in order to speed up the draw process for the next round. One thing to note is the whole concept of no low point wins. After team positions have been determined (and the speed ballot submitted) then the speaker points will be decided and the total speaker points a team gets must not exceed the points of a team who finished ahead of them in the debate.

Many modern tab systems will prevent low point wins from being entered. This really annoys the tab room and adjudication team as they have to find the chair judge and get them to correct the results. However nothing will see a judge moved from being chair faster than submitting different results between the speed ballot and the full ballot. I have seen it done. The judge stood in front of me and explained that they changed their mind on the result when they looked at the speaker points and that it shouldn't be a problem because afterall the result was more important than the paperwork. Well they had just completely messed up the draw for the next round and some tab systems are designed in such a way that the results cannot be changed. As judges you must get it right first time.

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