Best of the West: Blockchain technology use grows; Montana’s rural healthcare solution; how Wyoming’s Nellie Tayloe Ross made gubernatorial history

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are top stories for the week starting Oct. 14, 2019. Photo courtesy of Montana State University

Blockchain technology, which digitally records data and transactions instantaneously – continues to make significant inroads around the world and in the West. In theory, blockchain technology is nearly unhackable, prompting states to explore blockchain as a means of preventing voter fraud.

Two Oregon counties will allow members of the military, their dependents and other overseas residents to vote this November using a mobile app powered by blockchain, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. Alaska is entertaining the idea of using blockchain-powered mobile voting for absentee ballots in the upcoming presidential primary.

Reservations about using blockchain in the electoral process center on concerns that the technology could be vulnerable to unauthorized access. During the 2018 midterm elections, the Voatz app used in West Virginia was reportedly the subject of an attempted hack, but the attack was unsuccessful, CNN reports.

Blockchain’s applications are not limited to voting: The technology also has uses in business and finance.  According to State Scoop, blockchain is being considered for use in Utah to replace the current process to transfer vehicle titles between owners. In Wyoming, five “blockchain banks” have received regulatory approval, which estimates could bring nearly $20 billion in assets to the state.

Colorado recently passed legislation exempting digital currencies from state securities registration in certain circumstances, and a group of oil and gas companies have agreed to implement blockchain in their Bakken shale field operations in North Dakota.

Learn more about blockchain by registering for WGA’s Winter Meeting in Las Vegas, where experts will discuss the technology’s uses in privacy and cybercrime with the Governors during a public roundtable.

Rural Health Program: Approximately 40% of healthcare providers in Montana are located in three cities, despite the fact that more than half of the state’s population is considered rural. Montana Public Radio reports that the Rural Ready Nurse Practitioner Program at Montana State University seeks to fix that imbalance. Learn more about the new curriculum, as well as WGA’s efforts to reinvigorate rural communities across the West.

America’s First Female Governor: After her husband, Wyoming Governor William B. Ross, passed away in 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross ran in his place and became the state – and the nation’s – first female governor. Read more about her story and political legacy.

Recreation Innovation: In order to find more ways to bolster the state’s recreation economy, the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation held an “outdoor recreation lab,” which gathered nonprofits, conservation groups, city, state and federal officials to share their knowledge on the subject. Find out more about the event and what it hoped to accomplish.

Going (Really) Big: For more than a decade Wyoming resident Andy Corbin has grown oversized pumpkins to show at local competitions. That work paid off this year when Corbin broke the state record with a 1,491-pound behemoth, a pumpkin so large that he was forced to move it around with a homemade tripod. Check out how Corbin cultivates his colossal cucurbits.  

Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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