The alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM) has been widely used for solving structured convex optimization problems. In particular, the ADMM can solve convex programs that minimize the sum of $N$ convex functions with $N$-block variables linked by some linear constraints. While the convergence of the ADMM for $N=2$ was well established in the literature, it remained an open problem for a long time whether or not the ADMM for $N \ge 3$ is still convergent. Recently, it was shown in  that without further conditions the ADMM for $N\ge 3$ may actually fail to converge. In this paper, we show that under some easily verifiable and reasonable conditions the global linear convergence of the ADMM when $N\geq 3$ can still be assured, which is important since the ADMM is a popular method for solving large scale multi-block optimization models and is known to perform very well in practice even when $N\ge 3$. Our study aims to offer an explanation for this phenomenon.