The Shift to Four-Year Terms for Governors

In response to the NYT piece I published today on the two-year term for the House, Rob Richie pointed out to me that governors had originally been enacted to short terms for many decades. Indeed, after WWII more than 20 states that still had two-year terms for governors shifted to four-year terms, assuming the information in this chart is accurate.

As late as 1876, around 9 states still had one-year terms. MA kept that system as late as 1919 and RI until 1911. Today all states but two have four-year terms — only VT and NH still have two year terms.

Needless to say, amending state constitutions is far easier than the federal constitution, which is why all these states were able to shift to the now standard four-year term for governors.

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