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More Students Registering to Vote Following Violence in Va. and Fl.

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Students protesting in downtown Charlottesville (FILE IMAGE) Students protesting in downtown Charlottesville (FILE IMAGE)
Carter Black Carter Black
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

With move-in weekend for University of Virginia students fast approaching, a grassroots organization is increasing its staff to help get more young people registered to vote before November's midterm elections.

A new study shows Virginia is leading the nation in youth voter registration. Organizers with NextGen Virginia (NGV), which has only been around a little over a year, have already registered more than 6,000 voters.

"We are the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country," said Next Gen State Youth Director Carter Black. "Of new registrants in Virginia, over 50 percent of them are young people."

A TargetSmart study suggests voter registration among 18 to 29 year olds has surged since the mass shooting at a Florida high school in February. NGV says last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville also sparked an increase.

"When the white supremacist rally happened here in Charlottesville, just a couple weekends later when UVA students moved in we registered over 1,000 students to vote in one weekend," Black said.

NGV is committed to registering voters on college campuses, like the University of Virginia.

"Young people are quickly beginning to realize that we have the power to really dictate what is happening in Washington, and who is representing us," Black said.

With the anniversary of that controversial weekend and students due back at UVA later this month, NGV is dedicating one full-time organizer to the university and expanding its organizer base to more than 80 people.

However, organizers say registering voters isn't their only goal:

"Showing them how to vote, where to vote, making a plan to vote, when polls are open, when polls close, all of that information is information we are seeking to give to students," said Black. “We are just helping students actualize their power that they already have."

NextGen Virginia will have staff at several college campuses across the state, including James Madison University and the University of Richmond.

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