POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy


A United States Governor is the chief officer in their state. They function as the head of State government, therefore overseeing the proper functioning of the state.

The federal and state system in the USA ensures that states have numerous powers under the US constitution. States have their own executive, legislative and judicial branches according to republican principles. Governors often have considerable power within the state they are elected such as state executive budgets or commander in chief of the state's National Guard (where not controlled federally) and the state's defense force. Additionally, many governors have significant influence over the legislature and judiciary, being able to veto state bills, appoint judges and in some states having either some or complete control over the ability to pardon a criminal sentence.

In all but two states, governors serve four-year terms. In Vermont and New Hampshire, they are elected every two years. In all but five states, the governor works alongside a lieutenant governor who acts as a deputy in the event the governor is unable to do their duty.

See also: Presidential Elections, What is a Constituency, Branches of Government

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