Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science & Public Administration


This study attempts to determine the extent that Dakota territorial and North Dakota State governors have exercised the gubernatorial veto. The approach is historical. The development of the gubernatorial veto is outlined, the state constitutional provisions concerning it are presented, and individual performances by governors are indicated. A more detailed account of the veto exercised by the current Governor, William L. Guy, is given.

Dakota Territory was created with the governor having an absolute veto over acts of the legislature. Later Congress granted the legislature the power to override a veto. Ten territorial governors used the veto and a number of vetoes were overridden by the legislatures. The item veto was denied to territorial governors.

When North Dakota became a State the governor was granted the full veto and an item veto over appropriation bills, subject to legislative overriding by a two-thirds roll call vote. Neither veto applied to initiated or referred measures. Later the governor was granted veto power:'over the State Industrial Commission.

Evidence indicates that 523 vetoes have been issued by North Dakota governors. Only nineteen have been overridden by legislative action. One veto was sustained by court action. The veto has not been abused by any governor. A large number of vetoes have been in the public interest.

It is recommended that governors be granted more time to study legislation, reduce items in appropriation bills, and be elected with the lieutenant governor as a team. Annual sessions of the legislature are also advocated.