The vote on Friday comes just weeks after neighboring Siskiyou County voted for secession, according to the Record Searchlight of Redding.
Modoc County Board Chairwoman Geri Byrne tells the Record Searchlight that she put the secession measure forward after hearing support for the idea from people in her district.
"We're not saying we're seceding today, we're saying let's look into it," Byrne said.
The goal is to form a separate state called Jefferson that would also include parts of Southern Oregon. The idea for the state goes back to the 19th century.
Many of the residents of the rural counties along the Oregon-California border have long felt that those in the urban halls of power in both states ignore their needs.
Nearly 40 people turned out for the meeting, Byrne told the newspaper, which amounted to a standing-room only crowd in Modoc's county chambers. Modoc County has a population of about 9,300 people; Siskiyou has more than 44,000.
A group spearheading the secession effort said the goal is to get a dozen counties to commit before asking California's legislators to allow the formation of a new state. The U.S. Congress would also have to approve such a move.
"California is essentially ungovernable in its present size," Mark Baird, a spokesman for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, said. "We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the North State."