Events & Traditions

Elmer A. Benson taking oath of office for governor, State Capitol, 1937. The governor is elected by the people for a four-year term, which begins on the first Monday in January of odd numbered years. To qualify as governor, a person must be twenty-five years old, reside in the state for one year, and be a citizen of the United States.

Although the current term is four years, this has not always been the case. For just over 100 years (1858-1962), governors served for only two years. The first governor elected to a four-year term was Karl Rolvaag.

The major duties of the governor are to oversee the day-to-day operations of government and to take the lead in shaping public policy by proposing ideas to the legislature. The governor is commander-in-chief of state military forces and can dispatch the national guard for emergency duty when warranted. In addition, the governor, along with the attorney general and the chief justice of the Supreme Court, constitute a board of pardons.