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Lincoln-Douglas Style Debate Procedure

Complete, step-by-step guide to holding a Lincoln-Douglas style debate!

The debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in the 1858 Senate campaign are considered one of the high-water marks of American political oratory, and spawned debate style that has become the de facto standard for organized debates. This step-by-step guide to implementing the Lincoln-Douglas debate style includes procedures for all positions, roles, and team members.
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Lincoln-Douglas Style Debate Procedure

The Two Sides of this Style

  • Affirmative Position
    -The side which favors the proposition
  • Negative Position
    -The side that opposes the proposition

*This style is very reliant on time and good decorum.

Roles

You will need to fill the following jobs with members of your team. Everyone on your team must have at least one job.

Affirmative Position

Negative Position

Moderator-Announces the debate and calls debate to order.
Name:
Timekeeper-Keeps speakers within time constraints.
Name:
Lead Debater-Presents the overall argument of the Affirmative position.
Name:
Lead Debater-Presents the overall argument of the Negative position.
Name:
Question Asker-Asks the Negative position team questions about its argument.
Name:
Question Asker-Asks the Affirmative position team questions about its argument.
Name:
Question Answerer-Must be able to answer questions about team's position.
Name:
Question Answerer-Must be able to answer questions about team's position.
Name:
Rebutter-Responds to the arguments raised by the questions.
Name:
Rebutter-Responds to the arguments raised by the questions.
Name:

Closer-Sums up Affirmative position, referring to new issues raised in the debate.
Name:

Closer-Sums up Negative position, referring to new issues raised in the debate.
Name:

 

Step-by-Step Procedures

Read through the following procedures so that you are very clear about what is expected of you.

  1. Moderator announces proposition to be debated.
    For example: "The death penalty is wrong, and should not be allowed in the U.S."
  2. The Moderator must introduce each speaker after the Timekeeper calls time.
  3. The Timekeeper must now keep track of the time, letting participants know when they have one minute left to speak and when their time is up.
  4. 5 Minutes: Lead Debater for the Affirmative position presents position.
  5. 3 Minutes: Question Asker from the Negative position team asks questions of Question Answerer from the Affirmative position team.
  6. 5 Minutes: Lead Debater for the Negative position presents argument.
  7. 3 Minutes: Question Asker from the Affirmative position team asks questions of Question Answerer from the Negative position team.
  8. 3 Minutes: Affirmative Rebutter responds to the arguments raised by the questions.
  9. 3 Minutes: Negative Rebutter responds to the arguments raised by the questions.
  10. 5 Minutes: Affirmative Closer sums up position, referring to new issues raised in the debate.
  11. 5 Minutes: Negative Closer sums up position, referring to new issues raised in the debate.

 

 

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