This paper explores the impact of citizens’ motivation to vote on the pattern of fiscal federalism. If the only concern of instrumental citizens was outcome they would have little incentive to vote because the probability that a single vote might change an electoral outcome is usually minuscule. If voters turn out in large numbers to derive intrinsic value from action, how will these voters choose when considering the role local jurisdictions should play? The first section of the paper assesses the weight that expressive voters attach to an instrumental evaluation of alternative outcomes. Predictions are tested with reference to case study analysis of the way Swiss voters assessed the role their local jurisdiction should play. The relevance of this analysis is also assessed with reference to the choice that voters express when considering other local issues. Textbook analysis of fiscal federalism is premised on the assumption that voters register choice just as ‘consumers’ reveal demand for services in a market, but how robust is this analogy?