App Gives Lake County, Ind., New Tool for Upcoming Elections

The application — developed by a high school senior — brings polling location, campaign finance and candidate data into one mobile-friendly location. It’s also searchable by election date and contest.

by Carley Lanich, The Times / May 28, 2019
Shutterstock/1599686sv

(TNS) — An idea sparked during soccer practice more than a year ago has turned into one of Lake County’s most useful apps.

Marcus Orciuch, a senior at Lake Central High School, has worked since last February with the Lake County Board of Elections to create the county’s first election tracking mobile app.

The application — tested with a small group of friends, election board members and candidates in last November’s midterm elections — brings polling location, campaign finance and candidate data into one central, mobile-friendly location, searchable by election date and contest.

The app also archives past races and their results, providing a user-friendly database useful for elections-related research.

The Lake County Election app was available to the public for the first time on an election day during this May’s primary races.

Perhaps the app’s most significant contribution was bringing Lake County’s Election updates to constituents in real time.

In past years, the Lake County Board of Elections has posted election results throughout the evening online. But, with the Orciuch’s help, the Election Board was able to send push notifications directly to cellphones as the results rolled in.

The app was advertised on the Lake County website and in some polling locations, Orciuch said. At one point on election night, May 7, he said, the app had 1,500 concurrent users.

“It got a massive spike as people went to the polls,” Orciuch said. “It was nice to just see the community knowing about something I did.”

For Orciuch, the app was an opportunity to apply his skill in technology to something useful and contribute to the Lake County community.

“It gets people more involved,” Orciuch said. “It keeps them constantly updated, and I think that’s really important.”

Orciuch’s interest in technology developed early. His father, Mark Orciuch, is the president of Next Generation Solutions, and has consulted with Lake County for years.

Marcus Orciuch grew up watching his dad work — following closely on collaborative projects that helped establish online registration for local parks and recreation departments and develop ecommerce programs for public access to county court records.

As Marcus Orciuch grew older, he said he knew he wanted to apply those same skills in a way that contributed local significance.

At Lake Central, Marcus Orciuch began taking computer programming classes as a freshman, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge. By his senior year he had taken all available computer programming classes offered at Lake Central and became a teacher’s aide to computer programming teacher Rita Chavez, tutoring younger students in C++ programming.

His skills have led him with the Lake Central Business Professionals of America chapter to national contest all four years of high school.

“He definitely knows his stuff,” Chavez said. “He was a born programmer.”

Marcus Orciuch plans to study information technology at Purdue University next year.

His father, who said he was careful not to push Marcus Orciuch down his same career path if it wasn’t his interest, said his son has now developed skills some of his peers don’t even have.

“Over the last couple years, he really matured a lot,” Mark Orciuch said. “In my wildest dreams I never thought he would follow in my footsteps.”

Marcus Orciuch is working with the county election board team to make sure the app is user-friendly for election officials to continue in his place after he heads off to college.

To the best of his knowledge, Mark Pearman — executive director at Cenifax, a company Lake County contracts with to handle data processing — said he hasn't seen anything like the Lake County Elections app on the market, at least not in Indiana.

“Marcus eats this stuff up,” Pearman said. “He has a leg up. A lot of people know the basics, but Marcus takes it to the next level.”

Marcus Orciuch said he received generally positive response after this month's election. In addition to tweaking the app’s design, Marcus Orciuch said he may also look into future options to include a selector for precincts on individual office pages.

“I knew this app would be important,” Marcus Orciuch said. “That gave me the drive to complete it.”

The Lake County Elections app is free and available for both Apple and Android users in the App Store and Google Play. More information about the Lake County Elections app can be found on Marcus Orcuich's website, locorum.app.

©2019 The Times (Munster, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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