Today Governor-elect Greg Abbott will be sworn into office, on the date specified by the Texas Constitution. It currently provides, in Article IV, section 4, that the Governor “shall be installed on the first Tuesday after the organization of the Legislature, or as soon thereafter as practicable, and shall hold his office for the term of four years, or until his successor shall be duly installed.” The possibility of inaugurating the governor “as soon thereafter as practicable” allows for flexibility in the event of an election contest, which would be decided by the Legislature pursuant to Article IV, section 3.
In the 1845 Constitution, Article V, section 3 initially specified that the returns from an election for governor would be directed to the Speaker of the House, who would open and publish them during the first week of the new session of the legislature. The elected governor would then hold office “from the regular time of installation, and until his successor shall be duly qualified.” (Art. V, sec. 4.) These provisions carried forward into the Constitution of 1861.
The Constitution of 1866 set the date for the governor’s inauguration as “the first Thursday after the organization of the Legislature, or as soon thereafter as practicable.” (Art. V, sec. 4.) The same date was set by the Constitution of 1869 (Art. IV, sec. 4), but it was changed to the first Tuesday after organization of the Legislature in the Constitution of 1876 (Art. IV, sec. 4). This section of the Constitution was amended in 1972 to change the length of the governor’s term from two years to four, but the provision for the inauguration date remained unchanged.