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The office of Governor was established by the first New York State Constitution in 1777 to coincide with the calendar year.[F] An 1874 amendment extended the term of office back to three years,[G] but the 1894 constitution again reduced it to two years.[H] The most recent constitution of 1938 extended the term to the current four years.[I]
Line of succession
The state constitution has provided since 1777 for the election of a lieutenant governor, who also acts as president of the state senate, to the same term (keeping the same term lengths as the governor throughout all the constitutional revisions).[J] Originally, in the event of the death, resignation or impeachment of the governor, or absence from the state, the lieutenant governor would take on the governor's duties and powers.[J] Since the 1938 constitution, the lieutenant governor explicitly becomes governor upon such vacancy in the office.[K]
Should the office of lieutenant governor become vacant, the president pro tempore of the state senate4 performs the duties of a lieutenant governor until the governor can take back the duties of the office, or the next election; likewise, should both offices become vacant, the president pro tempore acts as governor, with the office of lieutenant governor remaining vacant. Should the president pro tempore be unable to fulfill the duties, the speaker of the assembly is next in the line of succession.[L] The lieutenant governor is elected on the same ticket as the governor, but nominated separately.[M]