Georgia early voting: Prada wearers, discount devotees together

The 2008 campaign trail ends in a strip mall behind a Long John Silver’s.

At least it does for Bibb County voters who are casting their ballots early, and doing it in a spot that once housed a linen store and a rent-all place.

There, overlooking an Office Depot and, in the distance, a Wendy’s and a McDonald’s, an anymore rare public coming together of the classes has been congregating on recent weekdays to exercise an all-American right: the right to stand in line.

Voters decked out in everything from Prada to Family Dollar have been queuing up for weeks now. The other day, a priest stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some lunchroom ladies, in front of a man in full camo, a uniformed school-crossing guard, a local TV weather guy, a woman in a Dave Matthews Band T-shirt and a fellow in a half-zipped-up blue hoodie with nothing underneath but his bare, hairy chest.

"This," a woman in line said of those gathered, “is Macon.”

The suddenly fashionable allure of early voting has drawn folks to the Eisenhower Parkway-Pio Nono Avenue crossroad that was once the region’s commercial hub. Three-plus decades ago, Westgate Mall and its neighboring multiplex movie house lorded over the south side of U.S. 80 and, to the north, a Kmart plaza reigned.

For voters waiting — more than 90 minutes in some cases — in a line that sometimes stretches out the door of the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections and up the awning-covered sidewalk past a vacuum store and a paint shop, there isn’t much to do but look.